LA CRESCENTA — Whether it was a matter of the Crescenta Valley High boys' volleyball team's focus slipping, or a case of Glendale beginning to channel its frustration productively, the third game of Wednesday's Pacific League match had far more intrigue than any that preceded it.
The two teams battled it out right down to the end, but, while much closer, the third game ended no differently for the Nitros, as the Falcons notched a 25-10, 25-10, 27-25 victory.
"We just lost enthusiasm, we stopped trying as hard as we were," said Falcons middle blocker Wes Cormier, who led Crescenta Valley with 10 kills.
Cormier planted a kill to set up the Falcons' third match point of the day after Glendale kept fighting off the clincher.
But for much of the third game, it was Crescenta Valley (6-7, 1-1 in league) playing catch-up.
On a four-point service run by Regan Ornopia, which included an ace, the Nitros jumped out to a 6-1 lead and weathered the Falcons' first run to stay ahead, 8-4.
Glendale (3-5, 0-3) couldn't hold Crescenta Valley off for long, as it was soon tied at 8, but the Nitros still refused to surrender the lead.
"Everyone was talking more and we were just moving and communicating," Ornopia said. "We all were letting out our anger on CV. For some reason, before the third game, [my teammates] were getting mad at each other and I was telling them to stop yelling at each other, we're a team and we have to focus on the game right now."
The Falcons would tie it seven more times, including at 15 on a Logan Shapiro kill, before finally taking their first lead of the game, 16-15.
Crescenta Valley widened its lead to 20-15 and later led, 22-19, but Glendale came back to tie it at 23 before Shapiro notched a kill for the first in a series of Falcons match points.
The Falcons, who got seven kills from Ian Poprocki, encountered little resistance in the first two games, burying the Nitros under an 18-4 run to begin the match and promptly taking control of the second game, 17-7, after getting three straight aces from Michael Linvill in the early going.
"In the first game, we freeze for some reason," Ornopia said. "It just takes over all of us sometimes and then we have to get our momentum back after the first two games."
Matt Lesley had back-to-back blocks to put Crescenta Valley up, 20-8, in the second game and Shapiro got a kill on a tip to clinch the commanding 2-0 lead in games.
"We were just happy, playing our game," Cormier said. "That's all it was."