Prep back in CIF quarterfinals

GLENDALE — No upsets involving the top four seeds in the CIF Southern Section Division V boys’ volleyball playoffs have occurred.

With eight teams from the 32-team bracket still alive, it’s possible that an upset or two might be around the corner. Fourth-seeded Flintridge Prep would like to avoid being on that list.

Flintridge Prep might have its hands full when it battles Arrowhead Christian Academy in a quarterfinal home match at 7 p.m. today.

Going deeper in the playoffs means facing tougher competition. Flintridge Prep (19-5) opened the playoffs with sweeps against California Academy of Match and Sciences and Thousand Oaks Hillcrest Christian, while Arrowhead Christian (14-1) swept aside Bellarmine-Jefferson and Avalon.

“All of the teams that are left are good,” Flintridge Prep 12th-year Coach Sean Beattie said. “That’s the way we are looking at it.

“There are some big teams left, so anybody can beat anybody now. [Arrowhead Christian] is almost a carbon copy of us in that they have a lot of height across the board. It’s going to come down to who makes the least amount of errors.”

Flintridge Prep and Arrowhead Christian did not meet during the regular season. The teams last met on Feb. 27, 2008 in a regular-season match in which visiting Arrowhead Christian topped the Rebels, 25-19, 25-17, 25-13.

Flintridge Prep, which finished second in the Prep League behind Chadwick this season, will make its third trip in a row to the quarterfinals. It received only a team-high six kills from senior outside hitter Gavin Thomson and sophomore middle blocker Kenyatta Smith, but Flintridge Prep played smart defense to turn back host Hillcrest Christian, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13, in a second-round battle Tuesday.

“I think that we are firing on all cylinders right now,” Beattie said.

Flintridge Prep senior setter Steve Morse said the Rebels need to maintain their momentum against the Eagles.

“It’s really good right now,” Morse said. “We will review what they do well.

“They were a great team last year. There are a lot of great and tough teams left [in the playoffs].”

Arrowhead Christian, which captured the Christian League championship and has won 11 consecutive matches, picked up a 25-12, 25-19, 25-6 second-round home victory against Avalon on Wednesday. The Eagles have not lost a game during their winning streak.

Arrowhead Christian, which advanced to the quarterfinals in Division IV last season, will turn to a quartet of veterans to try to get past the Rebels. Those leading the Eagles’ attack are senior outside hitters Josh Vanderbyl and Mike Shaw, senior setter Brian Ingals and junior middle blocker Will Quanstrom.

“We have guys who have bought into our philosophy, and that’s to not let anything hit the ground,” Arrowhead Christian second-year Coach Greg Wojczynski said. “They love moving and we design our practices to make sure that happens.

“We played a tough nonleague schedule and tournaments to get us better and ready for the playoffs. Flintridge Prep has a solid team. We are excited to play them. It should be a fun match.”

The other quarterfinal matches scheduled for today will pit top-seeded St. Margaret’s against Cantwell Sacred Heart, second-seeded Salesian against Whitney and third-seeded Chadwick against Sage Hill.

The Flintridge Prep-Arrowhead Christian winner will meet St. Margaret’s or Cantwell Sacred Heart in a semifinal match Wednesday.

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