Falcons can't find way to beat Bulldogs

LA CRESCENTA — For the first two games of their Pacific League match Tuesday afternoon, the Burbank High and Crescenta Valley girls' volleyball teams went toe to toe.

The squads exchanged holding the lead on several occasions and neither could mount more than a five-point lead in either game.

However, in the third, the Falcons seemed to waver and the Bulldogs were ready to attack. Despite a spirited effort by Crescenta Valley, it wasn't able to topple the league-leading Bulldogs, falling in three games on its home court, 27-25, 25-21, 25-19.

The win keeps Burbank (6-0, 4-0 in league) in a tie for first place in the Pacific League with cross-town rival Burroughs (4-2, 4-0), which won the league crown last season.

Since the Bulldogs joined the league in 2006, the program has never finished higher than third place, which it accomplished in 2011 and 2010.

Trying to keep her team in contention for a league championship, Burbank Coach Sarah Brown was not particularly happy with what she saw with the group Tuesday. In fact, she was upset with the effort.

"I wasn't really happy ever," said Brown, who is in her seventh season. "We didn't come to play. You have to be prepared to play and I don't think we were today."

The Bulldogs were paced by senior Stephanie Eskander, who had a team-high nine kills. Teammate Jamie Gonzalez added seven kills.

Unlike Brown, Crescenta Valley (2-6, 0-4) Coach Jen Ku Lee was impressed with the way his team competed and the way it was able to stay with the more-experienced Bulldogs over the course of the first two games.

"That is the story of our season," he said. "No one blows us out; we just can't seem to get over that hump. I have just two seniors, so we're young, but we just seem to not be able to finish teams off at the end of games. But I think we'll figure it out. Each game we seem to be getting better and better.

"But I'm happy with the way that we played. Burbank is a very good team and I told our players and they are always up there in league."

The Falcons and Bulldogs took turns holding the lead eight times in the first game. Crescenta Valley took the lead, 16-15, and held it until the Bulldogs snatched it back at 25-24. However, the hosts tied the score at 25 on a kill by Allison Reik. Burbank was able to go up, 26-25, on a Falcons hitting error and finally won the game on a kill from Gonzalez off a block attempt.

Neither team took more than a three-point lead in the first.

In the second game, Crescenta Valley led, 16-15, before Burbank regained the lead at 19-18. However, four Falcons unforced errors down the stretch allowed the Bulldogs to take the game.

"I think if we win either of those first two games the outcome might have been different," Lee said.

Crescenta Valley had only a brief lead in the third game, 2-1. But Burbank seemed to bear down and never let the Falcons mount any significant comebacks.

"I try not to be the energy of the team, but sometimes that's my job to do that," Brown said.

Reik had nine kills for the Falcons.

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