BURBANK — With just seven players, the Hoover High boys’ volleyball is hoping to be competitive in the Pacific League.
For Burbank, it has higher aspirations and hopes to be playing for a league championship.
The teams met Monday for the first of two matches this season. Although the Tornadoes showed fight in the final game and seemed to get better throughout the contest, the Bulldogs were able to earn a 25-9, 25-15, 25-20 home league victory.
The Bulldogs (2-2, 2-0 in league), who also earned a sweep of Arcadia on Thursday to open league play, and coach Karl Rojo believe they have the talent to stay with the top teams in league.
“We haven’t talked about it much, but I’m sure our guys have their eyes on that prize of winning a league championship,” said Rojo, whose team finished third in league last season behind eight-time champion Burroughs and Crescenta Valley. “In my eyes, that title could be up in the air this year and we want to be right up there.
“I am trying to build that kind of confidence with these guys and and make sure they’re ready for the challenge,”
Hoover (1-2, 0-2), which was swept by Crescenta Valley lin its league opener, showed some resiliency Monday.
“We want them to go on the court and be competitive,” Tornadoes coach Daniel Seranian said. “We want them to compete. I want them to go out there and have fun. Go out there, play aggressively, play with determination, with confidence, but also have fun.
“With such a small team, we have to spend a lot of time on conditioning because those guys are out on the court for a long time.”
Burbank was led by senior Rory Rickey, who had a match-high 13 kills. Senior Jonathan Ragheb added six kills, sophomore Kourosh Dolatshahi had 10 digs and junior Brandon Villaflor finished with 26 assists.
In the first game, the Tornadoes were within striking distance down, 13-7. But the Bulldogs embarked on a 10-0 run to take a 23-7 lead. Burbank secured the game on a Hoover service error.
Things were tight early in the second game with Burbank clinging to a 13-10 lead. The Bulldogs won the next four points to increase their advantage to 17-10. The Bulldogs outscored the Tornadoes, 8-5, the rest of the way to win the game and take a 2-0 lead.
“There were some things today that definitely showed us there are some things that we need to work on,” Rickey said. “Especially when we take on a team like we did today, we need to keep our mentally high and play at the level that we normally play at.”
Hoover stayed with Burbank through most of the third game, taking a 6-5 advantage. After the Bulldogs went up, 7-6, on a kill by Rickey, the Tornadoes came back to tie it at 9, 10 and 11. The Bulldogs created some breathing room after a 5-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. Hoover was only able to get as close as four the rest of the way.
“We just can’t be playing down to any team, I told them that from the get-go,” Rojo said. “We played well for the first set and then I made my changes for the second set and those guys were pretty much able to hold it down.
“But then I think we got lazy defensively in that last game and we just didn’t play well. We just can’t do that, no matter who we play against.”
Junior Shayan Khoshkeifi and senior Edwin Miciano had four kills each for Hoover.