'D' is key for Prep in victory

GLENDALE — As far as offensive statistics go, Tuesday’s CIF Southern Section Division V second-round match against Thousand Oaks Hillcrest Christian won’t do much for the Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team’s playoff averages, but it did the primary job of advancing the Rebels to the quarterfinals.

Prep strategically sacrificed its normal offense in order to put up a defensive front concentrated on the main weapon of a fairly one-dimensional Saints team.

Using a triple block to stymie Hillcrest Christian outside hitter Erik Jansen, the Rebels got many of their points on Saints errors to win, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of swinging tonight,” said Rebels Coach Sean Beattie, who will lead his team against either Arrowhead Christian or Avalon on Friday. “They had one main guy and we knew that.

“Defensively, we played well.”

Jansen recorded 655 kills for the Saints this season, but was frustrated from the opening game Tuesday by a defensive triple-team led by middle blocker Kenyatta Smith, opposite JT Tredwell and outside hitter Gavin Thomson. The latter two led the Rebels (19-5) in kills with a modest six apiece.

“We had three or four blocks in the first game and then [Jansen] started trying to hit around [the block], but he was hitting it out of bounds,” Beattie said. “He probably got frustrated and then tried to change.”

Just as they did in the third game of their opening round sweep of the California Academy of Math and Science Friday, the Rebels, who finished second in the Prep League, got a little lackadaisical in the second game.

Hillcrest Christian (14-6), the runner-up from the Westside League, took a 7-0 lead, then went up, 10-3, and led throughout until Prep caught up at 20.

“It took us a while to settle down in the second game,” Beattie said. “There was a little lapse.”

The Saints’ chance to steal a game ended with the second, however, as Prep came out firing on all cylinders in the third to put the match away.

Arthur Kang added four kills for the Rebels, who advanced to the quarterfinals last year, as well.

 GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at gabriel.rizk@latimes.com.

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