LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High girls' volleyball team had the tough task of running through the gauntlet of Burbank-area schools in Pacific League contests this week.
The Falcons started the week on somewhat of a sour note, falling to host Burroughs in three games Tuesday.
Crescenta Valley was hoping to use its home court to its advantage Thursday when it hosted Burbank.
The Falcons definitely had the momentum after winning the fourth game and forcing a deciding fifth. However, the Bulldogs — paced by their serving — jumped out to a lead in the fifth game, closing out the match to win, 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 19-25, 15-7.
Burbank Coach Sarah Brown said it wasn't a matter of pumping her team up for the fifth game. Instead, she took the opposite approach.
"It was a matter of calming them down and reminding them that they had to do the things they needed to do to win," said Brown, whose team is 5-2, 3-1 in league. "I definitely didn't want to get them too excited."
The Falcons (3-3, 2-2) had trouble returning serve in the fifth game, a game in which the Bulldogs tallied five aces. When sophomore middle blocker Jessica Murphy notched her third ace in the early going, the Falcons had already dug themselves into a 7-1 hole.
"We just kind of lost our focus in that fifth game," first-year Crescenta Valley Coach Steven Uememoto said. "We didn't pass the ball very well and we didn't handle their serve all that well either. You just can't play that way in a fifth game like that."
Behind two kills by senior outside hitter Leah Gagliardi, combined with a Burbank hitting error, the Falcons were able to battle back in the fifth and trailed, 9-5. But Burbank was able to grab back the momentum and stave off any potential comeback.
The Falcons were able to win the fourth game largely due to the play of Gagliardi. She had seven of her match-high 19 kills in the stanza, and continually kept Crescenta Valley in the game with her solid play.
"Her play was really important for us," Uememoto said. "She really came up big on some plays, and we needed that."
While Gagliardi was big on offense for the Falcons, the Bulldogs received a considerable defensive boost from junior outside hitter Nia Treadwell, who didn't play in the program last season. Treadwell was a force at the net, as she ended with 13 blocks and eight kills.
"We have been working with Nia for three weeks to be that kind of a player," Brown said. "She has the talent and I think that all of that work is finally paying off."
Senior outside hitter Danielle Reid paced Burbank with 10 kills. Teammate Sarah Tubert, a senior setter, had 20 assists.
Burbank took control of the match in the early going. In the first game, the visitors enjoyed a seven-point advantage, 17-10. However, Crescenta Valley battled its way back, and when Gagliardi delivered one of her four kills in the game, the score was tied at 19.
But Brown called a timeout and the Bulldogs turned things around, earning a three-point win.
After the Bulldogs led early on in the second game, the Falcons soared back to snatch the lead at 6-5. Although Burbank got as close as one point five times, Crescenta Valley was able to hold on for the win.
The Falcons carried that momentum into the third game, where they led by as many as seven, 9-2. But things again changed, and the Bulldogs began to stage a comeback. When Crescenta Valley was whistled for a net violation, Burbank took its first lead of the game, 19-18. The Bulldogs finished the game on a 6-1 run.
Burbank also led in the fourth game, 9-8. But the Falcons quickly snatched the advantage and led the rest of the way.
Senior opposite hitter Bethany Reed added 10 kills for the Falcons.