Prep heads to Laguna Blanca

GLENDALE - Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball Coach Sean Beattie was relatively certain that his Rebels would find themselves in a wild-card match on Monday.

He even made sure to call a practice for Saturday to have his team as prepared as possible.

But upon Sunday's release of the CIF Southern Section boys' volleyball postseason draws, Beattie was pleasantly surprised to find that his team would get to wait until Tuesday to begin a hopeful playoff run.

"I thought for sure we would be in a wild-card game," said Beattie, whose team will travel to face Condor League champion Laguna Blanca on Tuesday at 7 p.m. "I guess that's part of being such a successful team in the past."

The Rebels advanced into the second round last season and had advanced to the quarterfinals or farther in each of the previous three seasons.

That postseason success will be greatly tested from the get-go, though, as the Rebels will make a lengthy hike to Santa Barbara to face Laguna Blanca (11-11), which went an undefeated 6-0 in the Condor League. Included in its 11 wins was a tournament victory over Pasadena Poly, which finished ahead of third-place Prep (10-13, 4-4) in the Prep League.

While the Rebels are clearly the underdog, Beattie also believes his team can play better than it has thus far.

"I haven't seen all of our players play their best game yet," he said. "It's a good thing and a bad thing."

It's been a negative, as the Rebels - who were missing a good deal of starters at season's onset due to them playing for the school's CIF championship basketball team - have yet to put it all together and have stumbled to a sub-.500 record, but Beattie believes it can be a positive as their best matches could still be in front of them.

"We haven't played up to our potential," Beattie said. "What we have done all year is stepped up against really good team. That's what it's gonna be in the playoffs."

Led by the likes of senior middle blocker Kenyatta Smith and senior setter Kieran Mulroy, Prep has 12 seniors on its 17-player roster. Of the 10 players listed on Laguna Blanca's roster, nine are seniors. Hence, Beattie believes Tuesday will be an emotionally charged match.

"It's gonna be an emotional game for both teams I think," Beattie said. "It's gonna be a good battle back and forth."

Flintridge Prep was the only local team to advance to the postseason, as St. Francis just missed out, finishing fifth in the Mission League, while Crescenta Valley was fourth in the Pacific League and both Glendale and Glendale Adventist Academy finished at the bottom of the Pacific and Liberty leagues, respectively.

The only other area teams to make it into the playoffs were Burroughs and Providence.

Burroughs, the Pacific League champion, is the top seed in Division III and received a bye into Thursday's second round where it will face either Rio Mesa or Morro Bay.

Providence, the second-place finisher in the Liberty League, will be in the opposite end of the Division V bracket as Prep, and will open up at home against St. Bernard.

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