Falcons put clamps on Tornadoes

LA CRESCENTA — Even after moving a step closer to clinching a playoff spot Tuesday afternoon, things are still not quite in order for the Crescenta Valley High girls' volleyball team.

There's the matter of trying to find some cohesiveness in the lineup and trying to make it the right combination for the start of the postseason.

"The season has been a lot like a puzzle," Crescenta Valley Coach Jen Ku Kim said after the Falcons posted a 25-20, 26-24, 25-14 Pacific League victory against visiting Hoover. "We had one player quit at the beginning of the season and we are still trying to find the pieces.

"It's been tough on them, but at least we can see where they can play and get our lineup in order."

Crescenta Valley improved to 8-6, 7-5 in league and is in fourth place behind Burroughs, Arcadia and Burbank. The top four teams in the eight-team league automatically qualify for the playoffs.

Hoover dropped to 2-13, 2-12 and saw Crescenta Valley sweep the two head-to-head matches this season. Crescenta Valley recorded a 23-25, 25-14, 25-18, 38-36 win at Hoover on Sept. 29.

Hoover Coach Charles Min said the Tornadoes are trying to finish the season on a winning note.

"We had a good practice Monday and it's about finishing and not letting up," Min said. "Some of our kids have been playing with pride.

"We are out of playoff contention and they are aware of it. That's showed in their play, but we want to play better."

Crescenta Valley received nine kills and four aces from Kira Guarino. Teammate Noel Wong registered three aces, all in the second game.

Hoover got eight kills from Elizabeth Dardov and five from Nicole Mirzakhanian.

The Falcons took an 8-2 lead in the first game on a kill by Guarino. Another kill by Guarino extended the lead to 19-7. Hoover closed to within 24-20, but Allison Reik's kill closed out the win.

In the second game, which featured the Falcons playing many of their reserves, three straight kills by Wong gave the Falcons a 19-15 advantage. Hoover then went on a 9-4 run to take a 24-23 lead and force Kim to call timeout. Crescenta Valley then received a kill from Kasieh Cases-Manzon to tie it at 24. A hitting error by Hoover and a kill by Sabrina Shahbandeh gave the Falcons a two-game lead.

"If we had lost the second game, I would have gone back to playing the starters," Kim said. "We have three matches left [in the regular season] and we want to see where everybody fits because we do have some versatile players."

Crescenta Valley grabbed a 10-1 lead in the third game, highlighted by a pair of aces from Guarino. Guarino's final kill completed the sweep.

"We were a little shaky throughout the match," Min said. "Hopefully, they gain a bigger perspective from this match and are able to move on."

Crescenta Valley and Hoover will host league matches at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Crescenta Valley will take on Glendale and Hoover will meet Burroughs.

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