GLENDALE — Having finally found its finest form and used it along with some overwhelming momentum, the Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball team is back in the CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinals after a one-season hiatus.
Standing in the way of the Rebels making a return to the semifinals for the second time in three seasons is top-seeded Vistamar.
The two will collide today when the Rebels (12-13) host the visiting Vikings (19-2) at 5 p.m. at Flintridge Prep.
"They're all around a pretty solid team," said Rebels Coach Sean Beattie of the Vikings, who he added have some size, but are very athletic on the outside. "I think they're gonna put up a pretty good block against us."
The Rebels will look to counter with 6-foot-8 senior middle blocker Kenyatta Smith, 6-3 senior outside hitter Jared Norsworthy and 6-2 sophomore outside hitter Chad Cosse. But perhaps most important to the offense will be setter Kieran Mulroy and the passing game of the Rebels.
"If our passing is on, then we can run a quick offense, which always disrupts a block," Beattie said. "If our passing's not on, it's gonna be a long day."
Passing and a slew of intangibles helped to turn around the Rebels' season, a turnaround which essentially began in the third game of the postseason.
The Rebels opened up on the road against Laguna Blanca and rallied for a dramatic, 22-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-11, 15-10 first-round win before defeating Firebaugh, 25-20, 19-25, 25-13, 25-16 at home on Thursday. It was the comeback against Laguna, however, that seemed to have finally stoked the Rebels to play to their potential.
"I think being down [and coming back] from 2-0, away at Santa Barbara just got the team fired up," Beattie said.
But falling behind against Vistamar is something that would be ill advised, according to Beattie.
"With a team like Vistamar, you can't get down, they'll just keep on pounding you," he said.
The Vikings, who are led by senior outside hitter Evan Simon and sophomore outside Colin McCall, defeated Pacific Lutheran, 21-25, 25-18, 25-14, 25-20 in the first round of the playoffs before upending Holy Martyrs, 25-14, 25-18, 25-20. The Santa Fe League champions also own a win over Prep League champion and No. 2 seed Chadwick, which defeated the Rebels in their two season meetings.
Still, Beattie is confident that with the experience gained against league foes like Chadwick and fellow quarterfinalist Pasadena Poly, on top of his team's recently found 'A' game, the Rebels realize they can play with the best of the best.
"I told the guys, once we get to the playoffs, we've played teams that are the highest caliber of our division," Beattie said. "All season I didn't think we'd played to our potential. I think we're starting to reach that now."
If the Rebels prevail, they would face either Poly or Providence on Tuesday in a semifinal match at Prep, which once again won both pre-flips.
But the question remains that even if the Rebels play to their potential, can they upset the No. 1 seed?
"They're No. 1 for a reason," Beattie said. "We're gonna have to play one of our best games of the year, if not the very best, to beat them. And we know that."