GLENDALE — Kenyatta Smith and Jared Norsworthy are plenty familiar with dramatic situations on the court.
Only a few months removed from playing pivotal roles in Flintridge Prep's boys' basketball team winning its first-ever CIF championship, the tall tandem came up clutch in the Rebels' boys' volleyball team rallying for a dramatic, come-from-behind 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-11, 15-10 win on the road against Laguna Blanca on Tuesday in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
"If it's close, we know just to keep our poise and focus," said Norsworthy on Tuesday of how the experience of a CIF championship run on the basketball hardwood translated to the volleyball court.
Norsworthy and Co. will look to keep their poise and focus tonight when they host a second-round showdown with Firebaugh, which likewise prevailed in a five-game nailbiter in the first round, besting West Valley Christian, 21-25, 25-11, 25-14, 23-25, 15-7.
Shortly after Prep's win, Rebels Coach Sean Beattie said he expected to see Firebaugh prevail in the first round and predicted another see-saw engagement in the second round.
"They've been ranked [in the division top 10] just about all year," Beattie said. "I expect another great match."
Firebaugh, which was ranked eighth in the final Division V poll of the season, sports a 17-2 record and finished in a first-place tie with Milken Community in the Heritage League, but went into the playoffs as the league's second seed.
Flintridge Prep took third in the competitive Prep League behind second-seeded Chadwick and fifth-ranked Pasadena Poly.
"If we play to our potential, I think we can beat just about anybody we play," Beattie said.
But for much of the season, the 11-13 Rebels underachieved. That seemingly changed when they were down, 2-0, against Laguna Blanca on Tuesday and then rallied for victory.
Norsworthy and Smith combined for 32 kills and 14 blocks in the match. Twenty of those kills and 10 of those blocks came over the last three games. Kieran Mulroy also added 51 assists in the match and it was the Rebels' passing game overall that was key in the turnaround.
"We picked up our passing big time," Norsworthy said.
Should the Rebels advance to the quarterfinals, they will face either top-seeded Vistamar or Holy Martyrs on Saturday at Flintridge Prep, which won pre-flips against both teams.