LA CRESCENTA — The final play epitomized the entire match for the Crescenta Valley High boys' volleyball team.
It looked like the Falcons had forced a late tie in the fifth and deciding game Tuesday as Ian Paprocki notched a block, but the home-team cheers turned to groans as the official signaled Paprocki came into contact with the net on the block, securing the game and Pacific League win for the Wolfpack, 25-20, 29-27, 17-25, 22-25, 15-13.
It put an exclamation point on a match in which the Falcons came so close to victory.
"Two more points and it'd be going great," Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson said. "It came down to who made the fewest mistakes. You hit a couple jump serves or don't hit some balls out and that's the difference in the game, either way. In the end we netted on a block and they didn't."
A win over Claremont (13-5, 5-0 in league) — ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division IV — would have meant a lot for CV (8-5, 2-2) in the Pacific League standings and CIF polls.
"We expected it would probably be a war and it will probably be a war when we go up there to play them," said Nelson, whose squad is unranked. "It's one of those things, they're ranked fourth in the division and nobody knows anything about us yet. It would have been nice to beat them because then maybe somebody would have believed in us."
Claremont Coach Bernie Wendling was also not surprised by the close finish.
"That's who they are, they always play us tough," Wendling said. "It's always fun to play them here and we always have some great matches. We never get easy ones here, it's always a dog fight."
The fifth game featured seven ties and two lead changes with no team taking more than a two-point lead until the Wolfpack used a 4-0 run to take a 10-6 advantage.
The Falcons battled back, as they had all game, to tie the game at 11 with a 5-1 spurt — highlighted by two Claremont errors and kills from Michael Linvill, Vincent Van Hoek (11 kills) and Wesley Cormier (nine kills, three blocks).
Two CV errors and a block from Claremont's Stephen Zetterberg, who posted match-highs in kills (13) and blocks (seven), gave the Wolfpack a 14-12 lead and then two consecutive net infractions on Claremont and Paprocki ended the match.
The Falcons showed their resilience in the match, digging themselves out of a two-game hole.
Zetterberg notched seven kills and two blocks in the first game before CV dropped a tightly contested second game.
The second game featured 11 ties and seven lead changes as CV climbed out of a seven-point hole, 18-11, to force ties at 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27.
The Wolfpack took a 28-27 lead on a Crescenta Valley hitting error and won the game on an ace from Jared Butz after the Falcons committed a total of 18 unforced errors in the frame.
CV rebounded for a convincing win in the third game, 25-17, behind a game-high seven kills from Linvill, who finished tied with Zetterberg for a match-high 13 kills.
The Falcons took advantage of 19 Claremont errors and used a 4-0 run to a take a 24-20 lead en route to a fourth-game win.