Tyler Brooks earns top award in Pacific League

The reward for a season of hard work for the Burbank High girls' volleyball team culminated with it capturing a share of the Pacific League championship. The title was the first for the program in 37 years.

Shortly thereafter, the Bulldogs were rewarded for their fine season when the All-Pacific League list was released. Burbank landed six players on the all-league ledger, including a co-player-of-the-year honor for senior setter Tyler Brooks.

Making the first team for Burbank was senior opposite/middle Stephanie Eskander, senior opposite Katie Hooper and junior outside hitter/middle Sharon Youn. Senior outside hitter Jamie Gonzalez was a second-team pick and Stephanie Lin was an honorable mention choice.

Burroughs had two first-team honorees in junior outside hitter Kaitlin Cottrell and junior setter/opposite Katie Rutecki. Teammate Dani Gonzalez, a junior libero, was named to the second team and senior middle Laura Howard was an honorable mention selection.

Brooks proved to be a steadying force for the Bulldogs (18-4), who shared the league crown with Arcadia after the teams split their two league contests.

“I was a little bit surprised when I first found out that I had won it,” said Brooks, who shared the honor with Arcadia’s Lexi Resch. “It was something that I had thought about, but it really wasn’t something I was trying to win. I just went out and played hard because I needed to play hard. But winning MVP is something that is pretty cool.”

Brooks definitely made her presence known on the court, finishing with 359 assists, 151 digs and 52 aces to go along with 22 kills.

The Bulldogs had to defeat cross-town rival Burroughs in the final regular season match to secure a portion of the league championship.

“We came back this year and we really made it a goal to win a league title,” said Brooks, who was a second-team all-league selection in 2011. “We realized that we really had a shot this year and we all worked really hard to make that happen. Being the first team to win it in such a long time made it that much more special.”

Eskander tallied 148 kills, 15 aces and 26 blocks, Hooper had 94 kills, 220 digs and 18 aces, while Youn had 120 kills, 22 aces and 52 blocks. Gonzalez added to the mix with 122 kills, 81 digs, 15 aces and 25 blocks and Lin tallied 148 digs and 11 aces.

“I feel that everybody we wanted to make all-league made the list,” said Burbank Coach Sarah Brown, who guided the Bulldogs to the league title after not finishing higher than third in her seven years. “Since you can’t vote for your own players, it’s really a cool thing to see the other coaches acknowledge our players.”

Burroughs (19-6) finished third in league and then went on to success in the CIF Southern Section II-A playoffs, advancing to the quarterfinals.

Cottrell, who earned All-CIF first-team accolades early this week, was a driving force for the team — especially in the playoffs — as she averaged 12 kills and 1.2 aces a match.

Rutecki proved to be a solid all-around player, averaging 13 assists, five kills and 1.1 aces a match.

While Gonzalez averaged 12 digs a match, Howard averaged eight kills and eight digs a contest.

“This was the first time in about three or four years that we were peaking at the right time at the end of the season,” Burroughs Coach Edwin Real said. “And you could see that by how well we did in the playoffs. The girls progressed through the season and many of them got better as the season went on.”

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