If only the Rebels can play like this all the way through the playoffs.
After two rounds of CIF Southern Section Division V playoff volleyball, the Flintridge Prep Rebels return home relatively unscathed after sweeping past its first two opponents en route to a berth in the quarterfinals.
The Rebels (19-5) advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating Thousand Oaks' Hillcrest Christian (14-6) in straight sets, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13, in Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division V second-round playoff match in Ventura County.
Relying upon its defense in games one and three, Flintridge Prep, who finished the season ranked fourth in CIF rankings, also showed it can handle the pressure of a road playoff game despite facing a large deficit. Trailing 7-0 and 10-3 in the second game, the Rebels managed to put together a spirited comeback to catch the Saints at 20-20 before putting Hillcrest Christian away for good with 25-21 victory.
Flintridge Prep maintained its momentum in cruising past a demoralized Saints team in the third frame, defeating Hillcrest Christian 25-13 to complete its second three-game sweep of the playoffs. Now, Flintridge Prep awaits the winner of Wednesday's contest between Avalon and Arrowhead Christian. The quarterfinal match-up will be on Friday, with the location yet to be determined.
Last week, the Rebels opened the playoffs by defeating Carson's California Academy of Math & Sciences (4-6) at home in straight sets, 25-11, 25-14, 25-22, on May 15 here at Crawford Family Gym.
â€œWe went back to basics and played our game, you know,â€ senior Gavin Thompson told the Valley Sun after the first round match against CAMS. â€œThis is our senior year. We want to win. We really want this.â€
The will of Flintridge Prep was evident in the first two games. After CAMS managed to keep the match close early on during the first game, Flintridge Prep finished on an 18-4 service run â€“ including a 7-0 service run with senior J.T. Tredwell serving to finish the game â€“ to win the initial frame, 25-11. While both teams were tied at 7-7, CAMS committed 11 errors the rest of the way to drop the first game.
Tredwell continued his service run in the second frame, as Flintridge Prep jumped to a 6-0 lead and led by as much as 16-4 before finishing with a 25-14 win. CAMS finally made it interesting in the third frame as they exchanged points with Flintridge Prep early on before taking a 16-14 lead on a bobbled block attempt by Prep's frontline. However, Flintridge Prep reclaimed an 18-16 lead after consecutive kills by Tredwell and Thomason, followed by a Thomason block and an offsides call against CAMS.
The visiting CAMS still fought back and took a 21-20 lead, but two service faults, a missed hit and a Steve Morse block put Prep back in control. Junior Keenan Buchanan finished the game and match with a kill, giving Flintridge Prep a 25-22 victory and a ticket to the second round.
â€œIt's been a trend,â€ Flintridge Prep Head Coach Sean Beattie said about his team's performance in the third game. â€œIt's a thought that this game's over, let's put it in cruise control, and (CAMS) is not a typical first round opponent. They are scrappy. We just have to calm ourselves down â€¦ and get back to our game.â€
Senior Gavin Thomason led the way with 16 kills and three assists, while Arthur Kang added six kills and seven digs against CAMS, who are also nicknamed Rebels. Morse added 21 assists and sophomore Kenyatta Smith had four kills and six blocks.
â€œI was really nervous about this game,â€ Beattie told the Valley Sun after the first round victory over CAMS. â€œWe seemed to be rattled a little bit (after the regular season finale against Pasadena Poly). I think what happened is the kids just believed in themselves. The kids finally realized we are a good team.â€
Tredwell and Thomason had six kills apiece against Hillcrest Christian.