Burbank volleyball gets by Glendale to stay in title hunt

BURBANK — The Glendale High girls’ volleyball team was trying to stay in playoff contention for the fourth and final spot when it faced off against Burbank on Thursday in a Pacific League contest.

The Bulldogs had a loftier goal. A win would keep them in first place in league and put them in position to capture the program’s first league championship in 37 years with one match remaining.

Although the Nitros played well in spots, they allowed Burbank to embark on some substantial runs, forcing them to battle back throughout the contest. The Bulldogs were able to take advantage of their opponents’ struggles and come away with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-20 victory at home.

The win enables Burbank (17-3, 12-1 in league) to remain tied for first place in the Pacific League with Arcadia (17-7, 12-1). The Bulldogs need only to defeat cross-town Burroughs (12-9, 10-3) — which is in third place — in the regular-season finale Tuesday to secure at least a share of the crown. The Apaches end the league season Tuesday at Crescenta Valley.

Burbank Coach Sarah Brown said her team wasn’t even thinking about the implications of the Burroughs match Thursday.

“We didn’t even talk about it,” said Brown, who hasn’t had a team finish higher than third place in her seven years running the program. “We knew we had to win today to even have to worry about the Burroughs game. We were just concentrating on Glendale.”

The loss dashes the playoff aspirations of the Nitros (7-12, 4-9). With Crescenta Valley (8-9, 6-7) earning a four-game win against Hoover on Thursday, the Falcons are in fourth place and have a two-match cushion heading into its final match.

“We have been really close in a lot of games this year,” Glendale Coach Jennifer Vo said. “I have seen a lot of improvement with the girls this year and I can say that they never give up in games. They are always out their trying their hardest.”

The Bulldogs relied on the serving of opposite hitter Jamie Gonzalez to put together substantial runs in two of the three games. Gonzalez ended up with nine aces to go along with eight kills and 10 digs.

In the opening game, the Bulldogs gave up the first two points before surging back. They built up a six-point lead, 20-14, and never allowed the Nitros back into the game.

The first service run came in the second game after the Nitros came back to tie the score at 5. With Gonzalez frustrating Glendale with her serve, Burbank sustained an 11-0 run with six points coming off aces. Even when the run was halted on a Burbank lift, the Bulldogs enjoyed a 16-6 advantage.

Glendale tried to battle back, but could not whittle the lead down to less than five the rest of the way.

“We really didn’t play our best,” said Burbank outside hitter Denise Daniel, who contributed six kills. “But we were able to pick it up at the end and we were able to play with more energy.”

Burbank also received six kills from Rose Cowart, 10 digs from Juliana Marx and 25 assists from Tyler Brooks.

The early going in the third game was almost a carbon copy of the second. Again the squads were knotted at 5 with Gonzalez serving. Burbank went on a 6-0 run, spearheaded by three Gonzalez aces. A short time later, Burbank increased its advantage to seven, 13-6. But Glendale kept battling back, paced by Grace Tappin (eight kills) and Andrea Popescu (seven kills).

The Nitros cut the lead to two, 18-16, but that was as close as Glendale would come down the stretch.

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