BURBANK HIGH — The first time the Burbank High boys' volleyball team played Arcadia earlier this season, the Bulldogs came two points away from forcing a winner-take-all fifth game on the Apaches' home floor.
With confidence that they could possibly turn the tide on Arcadia when the teams met Wednesday at Burbank, the Bulldogs went into the Pacific League contest with high expectations.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the second matchup against the Apaches ultimately yielded the same result as the first, as Burbank fell in four games, 25-14, 25-16, 22-25, 25-14.
With no wins last season playing on the junior varsity level, Burbank (5-13, 1-6 in league) has notched a handful of wins this year as a varsity squad.
Burbank Coach Patrick McMenamin said he has seen a distinct improvement with his squad since the beginning of the season and that's what gave the coach the confidence that the Bulldogs could give the Apaches (7-12, 4-2) a good battle.
"Ironically, we approached today with a lot more confidence than when we played them the first time," McMenamin said. "But apparently we couldn't build on what we did the first time."
Having a squad with no varsity experience, playing consistent volleyball has been a challenge for the Bulldogs this season. Despite the struggles, the Bulldogs have remained positive.
"We figured out that we were going to have to struggle here and there throughout the season," Burbank junior outside hitter Elijah Cowart said. "But we have to just come to the conclusion that we can pull things together. We just need to stay strong and keep our heads up and not give up."
Cowart paced the Bulldogs with eight kills and 13 digs. Teammate John You added seven kills and seven digs and Armen Sargsyan had 27 assists.
Perhaps the turning point in the match came in the second game after the Bulldogs lost the opener. Burbank snatched the lead after playing well in the early going. When Paolo Fabregar put down a kill over two Arcadia defenders, Burbank enjoyed a five-point advantage, 11-6.
But the Bulldogs couldn't maintain the lead, as Arcadia stormed back in front, 13-12. The Bulldogs got to within one point of the lead just once the rest of the way.
"Today was the most inconsistent match that we've played," McMenamin said. "It was very frustrating losing the first two sets. But I'm very proud of the way our players played in that third set."
After committing 16 unforced errors in each of the first two games, the Bulldogs settled down and played their best in the third. After falling behind early, Burbank grabbed the lead at 11-10. But it was a struggle holding the advantage, as Arcadia's solid play at the net continually challenged the Bulldogs.
However, the Bulldogs maintained their composure and went up, 23-17, before holding off a late Arcadia push to win the game.
In the fourth, Arcadia took control and the Bulldogs couldn't keep pace.
The Apaches received 11 kills from Dake Ying.