LA CRESCENTA — Already an improvement from last season’s exit in the first round, the Crescenta Valley High boys’ volleyball team looked to climb up and over visiting Quartz Hill in a CIF Southern Section second-round match.
However, in the end, that proved just too steep of a challenge.
Despite a valiant comeback by the Falcons, the hosts came up just shy of forcing a deciding fifth game and Quartz Hill escaped with a 25-16, 25-20, 15-25, 27-25 Division III victory Thursday.
“We played some of our best volleyball against a really good team,” Falcon coach John Nelson said. “It didn’t go our way, but I am really proud of the way these guys played. It was one of our best outings.”
It was the second time the schools played each other this season. The first was a sweep by the Rebels in mid-April at the Karch Kiraly Tournament of Champions. Thursday night’s contest was very different and included two game-points for the Falcons in the fourth, and ultimately deciding, game.
“The last time we saw them, we beat them in three [games], but they were a completely different team tonight,” Quartz Hill coach Ryan Kachold said. “They definitely had our respect the whole time through. I knew that coming into this gym it was going to be extremely tough for us. I think in the end we got a couple better touches. It could have been either team tonight for sure.”
Crescenta Valley (18-15), which finished third in the Pacific League, dropped the first two sets before winning the third.
The Falcons trailed Quartz Hill (32-7) for the majority of the fourth set before finding a higher gear. The hosts had not held a lead in the game, had trailed by as many as five and were down late, 18-15, in against the No. 4-seeded Rebels.
After a hit out of bounds by Quartz Hill tied the game at 18, Crescenta Valley took its first lead of the fourth on a kill from the middle by Brendan Harvey, made possible when Quartz Hill’s receive of a serve from Andrew Boyle sailed back over the net. Boyle followed with an ace to make the score 20-18, drawing a timeout from the Rebels.
Harvey’s ensuing serve did not make it over the net, but his team rattled off the next three points to make it 23-19 thanks to an outside kill by Joe Pincini
The Rebels tied the score again at 23, but a kill from the outside by Garo Barsemian gave the Falcon game-point. Quartz Hill tied it at 24 before the Falcons earned a second game-point off another kill by Barsemian to make it 25-24. However, the Rebels ended the match with a run of three points, all coming on strikes from the outside. It was Nathan Merren (14 kills) who finished it.
“We put everything we had into this game. It was our last one,” Barsemian said. “We knew we could go to the third round, but I guess we got the bad [end] of things.”
Barsemian recorded a match-high 18 kills in his final match as a Falcon. Boyle, a junior, had eight kills and two aces. Harvey had six kills.
After Quartz Hill, the Golden League champion, controlled and won the first two games, Crescenta Valley came to life in the third. The Falcons never trailed and had an 11-point cushion.
“We started running more plays more often,” Barsemian said of the third-set resurgence.
Thursday’s loss brings the Falcons’ season to a close and proved to be the final match at Crescenta Valley for seniors Barsemian, Pincini, Kethan Kanuri, Kekahuna and Jay Patel.
“I’m just proud of the way [my guys] played,” Nelson said. “This team has worked hard all year long. We fought through and tried to overcome a lot of things, and it is nice to finish playing some of your best volleyball.”