Burroughs volleyball fights back to claim share of title

CLAREMONT — The Burroughs High boys' volleyball team made a tough situation inherently more difficult Tuesday evening against Claremont.

With their lone loss in the Pacific League coming against the Wolfpack earlier in the season, the Indians needed to defeat undefeated Claremont to claim a share of the championship in the regular-season finale. However, winning in Claremont's gym has proven to be a challenge for Burroughs.

The Indians didn't help their cause by dropping the first game of the match.

But the Indians showed remarkable resiliency, battling back from the early deficit to capture the next three games and not only earn a 17-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-17 victory, but grab a share of the Pacific League championship.

It is the second straight season Burroughs (18-6, 11-1 in league) and Claremont (24-5, 11-1) — ranked No. 8 in CIF Southern Section Division III — have shared the title.

"We always know it's going to be tough for us to play here," Burroughs senior Daniel Jacobs said. "Their fans really get into it and they can be loud.

"But we came to play today and we were really focused on being able to get that championship."

It was a battle within a battle during the match that saw last season's co-league players of the year going at it, as Jacobs went against Claremont senior Steven Zutterberg, who is headed to UC San Diego.

But it was Jacobs who turned in the more inspired performance, coming up with key kills and pacing the Burroughs offensive attack. The four-year standout ended the match with 24 kills and four aces.

"Daniel has just meant so much to this program the last three years," Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said. "They knew he was going to be our go-to guy and they still couldn't stop him. He just steps up and gives us that big point when we really need it."

The Indians also received 11 kills from Shayne Beamer, 10 from Daniel Marbach, 23 digs from Danny Casillas and 41 assists from BJ Lagmay.

Beamer played a key role in the final point of the contest. With the Indians leading, 24-22, in the fourth game, Beamer got a perfect set on the left side of the court, went up for it and slammed the kill down to the floor.

"When I went up in the air and I saw the block, I knew I had it and I just went all out," Beamer said. "It was the best feeling of my life. It was like a hallelujah, Zen moment."

Burroughs took control of the fourth game early, but could never string together a lengthy run. The Indians were finally able to take an 18-13 lead and didn't let the Wolfpack whittle the advantage to under two points the rest of the way.

Zutterberg was used sparingly in the first three games in which he had nine kills. However, the senior received a steady dose of sets in the fourth game when he had nine of his team's 10 kills to finish with 18.

"I was surprised they didn't set him more in the first three games," Brinton said. "We thought he was going to get at least 30-50% of the attempts and they just didn't go to him as much."

After struggling and losing the first game, Burroughs appeared more in sync in the second game. But Claremont made it difficult on the visitors, as neither team was able to take a distinct advantage. After trailing, the Indians finally went up, 24-23, and were able to hold on.

It was another tight affair in the third game, as the squads played to 16 ties. Burroughs was able to surge ahead, 18-17, on a kill by Jacobs. The Wolfpack got to within one point of the lead, 21-20, but couldn't get closer.

"Once we got our priorities straight after that first game, we showed what we can do," Jacobs said. "No matter where we play or who we play against, when we click we're a very tough team to beat, and we showed that today."

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