BURROUGHS HIGH — Joel Brinton didn’t know where to begin.
There was the sub-standard first game, the “swift kick in the butt,” his Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team needed to get going.
There was the balanced and efficient second and third games that the Indians won in their CIF Southern Section Division III second-round home playoff match against Yorba Linda.
There was the “timid” fourth game that saw the Indians revert back to their first-game form.
Then, there was the unforgettable fifth game.
It was all memorable, all exciting, and all thrilling for Brinton and the Indians.
Burroughs defeated Yorba Linda, 23-25, 25-17, 25-19, 19-25, 17-15, to keep its season alive and advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Indians will play on the road at Rio Mesa at 7 p.m. Saturday in their quest to play in the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a game to remember,” Burroughs senior outside hitter Robert Rutecki said.
It’s indescribable,” Burroughs senior middle blocker Ike Nwachie added.
The match was hectic, nerve-wracking and agonizing.
But most of all, it was a victory for the Indians (20-4) — the three-time defending Pacific League champions — who celebrated with a throng of classmates who flowed onto the floor after the match.
Rutecki and Nwachie were in the middle of the celebration after a tense fifth game saw a critical Yorba Linda error lead to the Indian win.
With the Mustangs (22-9) holding a 14-13 lead and serving for the match that would put an end the Indians’ season, Brinton called a timeout, wanting to put all the pressure on Yorba Linda server Damonie Lanore.
“The timeout was called purely to see if I could get the server to miss,” said Brinton, who is in his sixth year at the helm.
Lanore — who had an outstanding match until that point, recording 19 kills — missed his serve into the net, tying the score at 15.
A Rutecki put-away on an assist from setter Bryant Lagmay (40 assists) gave the Indians a 16-15 lead. A kill by Nwachie on another assist from Lagmay clinched the win and brought the student section onto the court to mob the Indians.
“I’ve never felt anything like it,” Nwachie said.
Nwachie was part of a balanced Indian effort that featured a number of hitters trying to match the play of Lanore. Rutecki had 19 kills, Nwachie notched 14 kills and four blocks, Daniel Jacobs added 12 kills and Daniel Marbach contributed five kills and five aces.
“The ball was distributed much more evenly,” Brinton said. “Our passers put the ball up well to get those guys going.”
The Indians also made their share of mistakes in the first and fourth games — committing 20 unforced errors — that allowed the Mustangs to extend the match.
“I’m not taking anything away from Yorba Linda, but it was about us and our errors,” Brinton said. “In seemed to me in game one, we were very timid with what we were doing. In the fourth game, we want to playing timid again.”
They weren’t timid in the fifth game.
The Indians took a 7-3 lead before Yorba Linda recorded five of the next six points to tie the score at eight. The game featured nine ties, the last deadlock at 14.
Said Nwachie: “It was everywhere.”