TORRANCE — A season removed from enjoying a historic journey to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship match, the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team headed into this season after graduating two key All-CIF players.
Perhaps lacking some of the firepower they enjoyed last year, the Indians still won a share of the Pacific League title and embarked on another deep run in the playoffs.
Burroughs found itself against a familiar nemesis Tuesday in a division semifinal match. The Indians were taking on host South Torrance, a team they eliminated in last year’s playoffs. The two squads also faced one another twice this season, with Burroughs coming out on top in a Redondo Tournament contest and the Spartans taking a nonleague meeting.
In the rubber game, it was South Torrance that was able to rise to the occasion and punch its ticket to the championship match. Displaying a superior service game, the Spartans turned back the Indians, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 25-21.
Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said his third-seeded Indians have nothing to be ashamed of losing to the No. 2 Spartans (28-7).
“The team had a great year,” said Brinton, whose squad has won or shared the past three Pacific League titles. “I don’t think a lot of people expected us to get back here. With what we lost from last year, what they were able to accomplish this year; they did it as a team. There was a lot of hard work and dedication by our guys to get us where we were this season.”
Daniel Jacobs paced the Indians with 12 kills. Teammate Ike Nwachie added 10 and Robbie Rutecki had eight. In addition, Rutecki had 13 digs and BJ Lagmay had 37 assists.
“Our receive just wasn’t where it should have been tonight,” Nwachie said. “Offensively, I thought we played pretty well. But our receive just wasn’t there and that hurt us.”
Burroughs opened the match strong, jumping to a 5-0 lead and increasing the advantage to 8-2. However, the Spartans continued to battle back, and when Vinnie Ross delivered a kill, South Torrance had captured a 16-15 advantage. The Spartans continued their surge and closed out the game on a 9-5 run.
“When they were up, 5-0, we just kind of settled in and we just started playing relaxed,” Spartans Coach Kevin McElwee said.
Despite making 14 unforced errors in the second game, the Indians were able to win the stanza to tie the contest.
Burroughs did enjoy a 10-9 lead in the third game. However, South Torrance went in front, 11-10, on a tip by Peter Nordel. The Spartans never relinquished the lead, as the closest the Indians could come the rest of the way was two points, 16-14.
In the fourth game, the latest the Indians led was 6-5. After the teams battled closely for the next 16 points, the score was tied at 14. But once again South Torrance took control and closed out the game and the match.