BURBANK HIGH — The Burbank High girls' volleyball team's CIF Southern Section Division II-A first-round opponent entered Tuesday's match as the third-place team from the Olympic League.
Cerritos Valley Christian sure did not play like a third-place squad.
The Crusaders surprised the Bulldogs from the outset, taking the first game in just 19 minutes en route to upsetting and eliminating the Pacific League champs with a 25-13, 19-25, 25-21, 25-21 victory at Burbank High.
"They came from a tough league," said Burbank Coach Sarah Brown, whose team suffered its first home loss of the season. "We knew they were going to be a good team."
Valley Christian (18-6) — which was 4-4 in league play — was the better team Tuesday night.
It showed from the start.
The Crusaders started the first game on a 4-0 run and then used a pair of 5-0 spurts later in the game to easily win.
"In the first game, we came out nervous," Brown said. "We made too many mistakes, especially at the end of the games, and that's when it counts. It's hard to dig yourself out of a hole."
The Crusaders gave themselves 4-1 leads in the second and third games, but the Bulldogs made defensive adjustments in the second to tie the match.
Burbank trailed, 7-5, early in the second game, but scored 10 of the next 12 points to build a comfortable advantage.
The Bulldogs couldn't sustain their momentum in the following game, as Valley Christian used its arsenal of talented hitters to silence Burbank.
The fourth game was the closest, as a loud fan base tried to encourage the Bulldogs. The game featured nine ties and seven lead changes.
The last tie was at 20-20, but two consecutive unforced errors by the Bulldogs, a kill by Valley Christian and another two unforced errors ended Burbank's season.
"I don't know them as a team, but it seemed like they had good hitters," Brown said. "They had lots of hitters, and it makes it harder for our blockers. We couldn't focus on one player."
Outside hitter Alyx Henry had a match-high 15 kills and Amanda Chamberlain added 10 kills for the Crusaders. Teammates Morgan Haner (nine kills) and Karly Dantuma (seven kills) also contributed key performances for the Crusaders.
"Having hitters in good spots allows us to have three or four on, and that gets us a good win," Valley Christian Coach Brett Rinks said.
Denise Daniel led the Bulldogs with 11 kills, and teammate Katie Hooper had eight kills. Stephanie Eskander, who holds the school record for most kills in a season, was limited to seven kills and Jamie Gonzalez had five kills. Senior Tyler Brooks, who holds the school record for most assists in a season, had 14 assists for the Bulldogs.
Burbank finished the season with a 18-4-1 mark, including 13-1 in league, sharing the league championship with Arcadia. It was the Bulldogs' first league crown in 37 years,
"The tough part of the season is that only one team gets to end the season with a win," Brown said. "It stinks we end on a loss, but we try not to forget how good of a season we had."