BURBANK — After a successful run last year that saw Burroughs High reach the girls' volleyball CIF Southern Section Division II-A quarterfinals, it was time for the Indians to begin a new campaign Tuesday, starting with a nonleague match at home against Division I-A opponent Hart.
Burroughs fought out of an early hole to take the first game, but tailed off after that, dropping the next three and losing, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, 26-24, to the visiting Indians.
"I was pleased with the outcome of the first game," said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, whose team is ranked No. 10 in Division II-A. "We were clicking, things were happening, our ball control was good and then some time in the second game, they served a little better. Then, we had a hard time passing the ball, getting the ball to the setter and our ball control kind of went out the window kind of. If that happens, you know, you lose."
After pulling together to win the first game, Burroughs dropped the next two and found itself on the brink of defeat in the fourth game before clawing back to tie the score. The Indians then pulled ahead on an ace by Katie Rutecki that dribbled over the tape atop the net and dropped on the Hart side of the court to give her team the advantage, 20-19.
Burroughs held the lead and had a chance to force a fifth game before Hart caught up at 24, then finished the task on a kill by Brianne Beeman — who led the visitors with eight kills — for a 26-24 win.
"I think we were nervous in the beginning because we knew they were good competition, but we really could have beaten them," Burroughs senior Caitlin Cottrell said.
Burroughs was led in the kill department by Cottrell from her middle blocker position, as she tallied 15. Fellow senior Rutecki added 11.
"We worked really hard. Our teamwork was decent. We just didn't play as hard as we could that game," Cottrell, a Division II-A first-team selection last season, said. "We usually have our energy up all the time, but today it was awful."
The opening game saw Burroughs fall behind, 6-0, fueled by three of Hart's Amy McKee's five aces in the match, before coming to life. An ace by Cottrell to the deep part of center court tied the game at 8, and the host Indians never trailed again. They led by as many as seven and took the opening game on a Danielle Ryan kill.
Burroughs saw an early three-point advantage in the second game erode as the hosts struggled with both sides of the service game. At one point, Burroughs served the ball out of bounds three consecutive times and did so five times in the second game. The game was knotted at 15 before Hart reeled off eight straight points to cruise to a win.
"[In the second game] we started to strategize a little better," Hart Coach Mary Keen said. "The girls were executing better and Burroughs started making more mistakes, so that allowed us to take the second game pretty easily."
The third game was close throughout, but once again it was Hart (1-1) that had the energy to finish it. Burroughs drew even at 21 on a Rutecki kill, but Hart scored the next four points to win the game and take the lead in the match for the first time.
"I think that once we have our passes, our attack is pretty good, but it's that point of getting the ball there," Real said. "Our defense came through, we dug some balls. Our serving can be good, but that kind of bit us in the butt also [today] because we missed a lot of serves. We just have to be a little more consistent with everything."
Next up in the nonleague docket for Burroughs is Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Thursday.
"We want to be better for league. That is what we are getting ready for," Real said. "[That is why] we schedule tough opponents like Hart, and Notre Dame is very tough also. Hopefully that makes us step up a little bit to get ready for league."