Rebs' spirits stay high

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Whether his team is coming off a win or a loss, Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball Coach Sean Beattie knows what to expect from his young squad — a high energy, upbeat group of players.

The Rebels dropped their first Prep League match of the season just three days prior against Pasadena Poly, but were back on their home court Friday afternoon to take on Rio Hondo Prep in another league showdown.

With their high-energy mantra not missing a beat, the Rebels won, 25-17, 25-23, 18-25, 25-19 and improved to 10-8 overall and 2-1 in league.

"When our energy is low, we don't play well together," said Beattie, whose team snapped a two-match losing streak after winning six of seven. "That's why I harp on no matter what's happening we have to keep the energy high — on the court and on the bench."

A potent offense with timely defense backed up the high energy to garner the victory in a match that was tightly contested in each game and was decided on extended scoring runs.

Despite a majority of their players coming from junior varsity last season, the Rebels showed poise in taking the first two games with key points late in each.

Led by Kory Hamane and Kareem Ismail on the attack, the Rebels ended the first game scoring 11 of the final 13 points after Rio Hondo led, 15-14. The game saw six ties and five lead changes.

Trailing, 11-7, in the second game, Rio Hondo scored 12 of the next 13 points to take a 19-12 advantage, highlighted by three consecutive blocks on Hamane and Ismail.

Shortly after a Beattie timeout, the Rebels answered with eight straight points to re-take the lead. Flintridge Prep relinquished the lead one more time at 21-20 before taking five of the final seven points.

"We're a young team, so little by little we're growing," said Beattie, who told his team that the outcome of the third game was going to be solely their own doing — win or lose. "It's a good challenge every time we play a league match."

The Rebels coach called Rio Hondo much improved from a team that finished last in the league last season at 1-7.

"They didn't graduate any players, so they've been playing together for a year, year and a half," Beattie said of Rio Hondo, which took the third game before succumbing to the Rebels in the fourth. "They play solid defense and they put the ball down."

Hamane and Ismail set the tone in the final game with emphatic kills. Hamane led the team with 15 kills. Ismail followed with 11 kills along with six blocks.

Michael Lii tallied 34 assists.

Flintridge Prep, ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division V poll, will next compete at 4:30 p.m. April 3 with a nonleague home match against neighbor St. Francis. It will resume league play April 10 against visiting Chadwick, which won the division championship last season.

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