LA CRESCENTA — When it comes to the top two boys’ volleyball teams in the Pacific League, Burroughs High and Crescenta Valley grind it out against each other out through long rallies, close contests at the net and numerous ties.
At Crescenta Valley on Tuesday, the Falcons tried to slow the Indians down in the first set, and then tried to capitalize on the Indians’ mistakes in the second set.
Burroughs, however, overcame the Crescenta Valley pressure and swept, 25-15, 25-20, 25-13, to tighten its hold on first place in league.
“They’re good competition for us and we knew that they were going to step up, so we had to step up,” Burroughs coach Joel Brinton said. “I think the guys did that for the most part. We’ve been talking about eliminating our errors and the one time we didn’t the set got close.”
The victory extends Burroughs’ league win streak to 74 matches, and the first-place Indians (13-6, 8-0 in league) are inching closer to their 10th league title in a row following a pair of victories this season over second-place Crescenta Valley (12-6, 7-2).
“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Crescenta Valley coach John Nelson said. “That’s just it. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. If you make a mistake or if you give them an easy ball, they’ll capitalize on it really well. They put a lot of pressure on you. You either match the pressure or that’s what happens.”
The Indians and Falcons were tied at 5 in the first set before Burroughs scored four consecutive points on Crescenta Valley mistakes. Nelson called a timeout to regroup the Falcons, who cut the Indians’ lead to 9-7 on long rallies coming out of the stoppage.
The Indians were able to shorten the rallies and pulled away to a 19-11 lead as their offense started to click. Crescenta Valley again called a timeout to alleviate the Burroughs’ run and slice the lead to 19-13, but a series of kills and blocks gave the Indians a one-set lead.
The Falcons’ kept a two-point lead twice in the second set, but net violations and off-target shots helped the Indians rally to tie the score nine times in the set.
With the set tied at 13, the Indians’ offense again strung together plays and pulled away for a 21-16 lead.
“We’re trying to emphasize the fundamentals and letting the fundamentals take care of themselves,” Brinton said. “The second set got tight because we started passing the way that we don’t want to pass.
“We started passing tight to the net, so as soon as we got the pass backed off the net, our offense started running itself. It’s nice to have a league game where we’re challenged with those things to help us get dialed back in.”
A trio of kills from Falcons’ hitter Garo Barsemian cut the Indians’ lead to 23-19, but Kade McGovern’s kill and block sealed a two-set advantage for Burroughs.
“We constantly work hard at practices, we put in the work and we get the results when we come out on game day,” McGovern said. “We just come out here and do what we do.”
McGovern recorded a game-high 12 kills, and teammate Connor Burroughs also tallied 12.
Barsemian recorded eight kills, setter Andrew Boyle added six and Falcons’ sophomore Connor Harvey registered four blocks.
Burroughs took a 10-4 lead in the third set to establish its largest lead of the match before another Crescenta Valley timeout.
“[We] were just trying to make a little adjustment here or there,” Nelson said. “But, when it’s all said and done, you can’t hit balls out. You can’t serve balls out. You can’t block balls out.”
The Falcons were unable to slow down the Indians, who took a 19-9 lead before another Crescenta Valley timeout.
A Barsemian kill cut the Burroughs lead to 21-12, but Burroughs and McGovern combined for the match’s final points to close out the sweep.