NORTHWEST GLENDALE — The next time the Crescenta Valley High and Hoover girls' volleyball teams meet, chances are they will reflect on what took place Thursday afternoon.
In a Pacific League match that lasted close to two hours, it was the last game of the four-game contest that featured exhilaration and agony as Crescenta Valley and Hoover swapped points for nearly 40 minutes. Onlookers who hadn't seen the first three games entered the Hoover gymnasium looking to see what was at stake.
In the end, Crescenta Valley came through with an exhausting 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 38-36 victory.
"I don't know how to explain the last game," said Crescenta Valley outside hitter Kira Guarino, who finished with 17 kills, including nine in the last game. "We are out there on the court and you can hear both teams' fans cheering and excited.
"It's exhilarating and frustrating because you want to win it, but then you see the level of competition on both sides. It was crazy. Hoover has a good team and it's fun to play them."
Crescenta Valley (4-3, 3-2 in league) didn't want to run the risk of playing a fifth game against Hoover (1-5, 1-4). The Falcons fought off five game points in the final game, and Hoover staved off elimination six times until a serving error and a kill by Guarino clinched the victory.
Hoover Coach Charles Min said the Tornadoes were able to stay close to the Falcons and the experience from playing in arguably their best match will help them throughout the remainder of the season.
"Both teams had opportunities to take the game," Min said. "We always thought we could do well, and, when they are relaxed, they can really compete.
"This actually makes it easier for me to see what they can do."
Guarino gave the Falcons a 25-24 lead with a kill, but a serving error by the Falcons knotted the game at 25. Crescenta Valley then held leads of 26-25, 30-29, 31-30, 32-31, 35-34, 36-35 and 37-36. Hoover held leads of 27-26, 28-27, 29-28, 33-32 and 34-33.
"With every volley in that last game, my whole body was moving," Crescenta Valley Coach Jen Ku Kim said. "I think I lost 10 years off my life.
"It's a great fight put up by my team. Hoover will surprise some teams because they surprised us."
In the third game, Crescenta Valley took a 20-13 lead on an ace by Payton Wheeler. Wheeler finished the match with 22 assists and three aces.
Crescenta Valley led throughout the second game, building leads of 5-0 and 14-6. Guarino collected four kills in the second game.
Things started out well in the match for the Tornadoes. They grabbed a 12-10 lead on an ace by Lilit Chaparyan. A serving error gave the Falcons a 23-22 lead, but the Tornadoes registered the final three points.
Hoover received 10 kills and nine digs from Elizabeth Dardov, 25 assists from Arpineh Oganesyan, nine kills from Shaina Barrett and seven kills from Nicole Mirzakhanian.
The teams will meet again 3:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Crescenta Valley.