Last season, as far as the Pacific League went, the Burroughs High girls' volleyball team was in a class of it's own, going undefeated in 14 matches to capture it's first title in the league.
With more than half the Indians' starting lineup gone from the 2007 squad, Crescenta Valley came into Tuesday's Pacific League matchup intent on showing that the gap between the two squads has closed. But it was Burroughs that played like a more experienced squad when it counted most on Tuesday, pulling out a 25-22, 25-16, 25-22 victory, and as long as the Falcons continue to shrink from pressure situations while the Indians rise to the occasion, it appears Burroughs will retain an edge in the matchup.
â€œWe have two players that also played on last year's [league] championship team, so they have a little bit of experience, but just not on the big time scene,â€ said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, whose most notable departure was 2007 league most valuable player Karissa Lagmay. â€œI thought they stepped up and played well in the big time. A couple of girls who were on JV last year stepped up big.â€
The Falcons (2-1 in league) were competitive in every game, including the final one, which saw Crescenta Valley quickly fall behind, 11-4.
A Rachel Fisher kill for a sideout allowed Crescenta Valley to go on a 7-0 run behind Fisher's serve to tie the game at 11 and the Falcons would take a 15-14 lead on a kill from Tiffani Wilcox.
â€œWe just fought back,â€ Crescenta Valley Coach Jennifer Ryan said. â€œThe girls are working hard and trying to overcome the losses.â€
The Falcons would hang in at a 20-20 tie, but couldn't survive a match-clinching run from Burroughs (3-0 in league) that included one of Brittany Frederick's eight kills and ended on Amy Clarke's match-high seventh ace.
Crescenta Valley experienced a similar letdown at critical points of the first game.
The first game was neck-and-neck throughout before Crescenta Valley pulled away slightly for a 21-19 lead. The Falcons were outscored, 6-1, down the stretch following a timeout and lost the game on a kill by Jessika Diaz and another Clarke ace.
â€œThat's huge and it's something we've been working on and talking about,â€ said Ryan, who got six kills from Leah Gagliardi. â€œYou want to be the team that makes the runs and wins the game, but there's games where things aren't going your way and you've got to really work at getting ahead and once you're ahead, staying ahead.â€