South Pasadena volleyball off to CIF semifinals

SOUTH PASADENA β€” The South Pasadena High boys' volleyball team had to play Saturday evening's CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinal playoff match against Heritage Christian not at home as scheduled, but a few blocks away at South Pasadena Middle School. A bingo game has been slated for the Tigers' home gym.

Yep, South Pasadena got bumped for bingo.

No matter. The way the Tigers played for much of Saturday, they would have been successful regardless of the venue, as South Pasadena defeated Heritage Christian in four games, 25-15, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19.

In the fourth game, the Warriors rattled off three consecutive points to pull within 19-17. Tigers (27-4) Coach Ben Diaz called a timeout. He told his team to calm down, keep the energy on their side and put pressure on the opposing server.

"I said all we need to do is get a big kill, and we'll keep them quiet," Diaz said.

The Tigers regained the serve and closed out the match behind a pair of service aces from Robert Adamson.

The reason Diaz wanted to keep Heritage Christian quiet is because of what happened in the second game. The Warriors grabbed momentum, and the crowd, in winning the game.

South Pasadena setter David Barker, who finished with 40 assists, said that losing that second game reminded him of last year's loss in the quarterfinals against this season's top-seeded team, Camarillo.

"During the second game, it was kind of reminiscent of last year," Barker said. "In that game we lost our groove. They had a little bit more energy than us. The next game we came out, we brought our energy, we brought our game, we brought our big hitters, we did everything right and the score showed."

Saturday's match marked the first time that South Pasadena has lost a game in this year's playoffs, and the first time they've dropped one since defeating Gabrielino in four games on April 23.

"We haven't lost in a while," Diaz said. "It's kind of freaking me out. I need to know what these guys are going to react like if we have to go four games, five games. It's a good thing that they came back and they fought and they got it done.

Adamson finished with 13 kills. Teammate Richard Yu led the way with 16 kills, adding after the match that the team's ability to pass the ball contributed to their the strong finish.

Diaz said that if the Tigers continue to play well, it doesn't matter who they play.

"I think we can go to the finals," Diaz said. "There's no doubt in my mind. They're working hard. They know what's at stake."

South Pasadena will face either Warren or Crossroads in a semifinal contest Wednesday.

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