BURBANK — While its dominance temporarily wavered midway through Friday’s Pacific League match, the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team regrouped in plenty of time to keep Crescenta Valley from getting close to an upset on the road.
And although the Falcons made a strong run at getting back in the match after coming alive down the stretch in the second game, the Indians rediscovered their intensity in the third game to finish off their 25-13, 25-21, 25-17 sweep just as solidly as they began.
“It’s been something our coach has been drilling and hammering into us the last couple weeks — when we play with intensity, we play at a whole other level,” said Burroughs middle blocker Robbie Rutecki, who tied for the team lead in kills with seven along with Daniel Jacobs. “We’ve just been trying to keep it intense even when we’re down, like we were in the third game.”
After rallying from an 18-10 deficit to close the second game and fending off game-point three times, the Falcons, who were led by six kills from Wesley Cormier and five from Vincent Van Hoek, carried that tenacity over into the third game.
Cormier had two kills early in the game and Freedom Tripp added his own kill to make it 9-4 in favor of the Falcons, forcing Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton to call a timeout.
“We didn’t play our way,” Rutecki said. “We let them get a couple easy points off misreads and that gave them some momentum.”
Momentum turned on a dime, as Burroughs (17-3, 10-0 in league) — the two-time defending league champion that is ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division III — quickly reeled off a 5-0 run sparked by two kills from Rutecki. The teams traded points before Burroughs went on another spurt to turn a tie into a 17-12 lead. Rutecki put two more balls down during the run and notched an ace to push the lead to five.
“We had a talk about getting back to fundamentals,” said Brinton, who is a Crescenta Valley graduate. “For whatever reason, we lost focus and fundamentals went out the window and I challenged them to go back to fundamentals and see what happens with the game. They bought in and it was that easy.”
Cormier had an ace to make it 21-16 and he then notched one more kill to keep Crescenta Valley within 22-17, but it was the last point the Falcons would get.
“As we started to settle in, we started to play like we’re capable of,” said Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson, whose team fell to 12-6 and 6-3 in league. “Then we just kind of pressed a little bit at the end.”
With its energetic home crowd behind it, Burroughs roared out to a 15-9 lead in the first game and the Falcons were never able to shake it off. It was a different story in the second game, as Van Hoek notched three kills and an ace late in the game to keep his team close.
“They play a little bit quicker pace than we’ve been able to simulate in practice and it just kind of showed,” Nelson said. “I still think we’ve got a ways to go. We can still get better and we’re going to work on that.
“It’s frustrating, we’re better than we’ve shown.”