LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — The schools are practically neighbors and, in some cases, so are the students, so the nonleague boys' volleyball rivalry between St. Francis High and Flintridge Prep often carries a lighter, friendlier tone.
But after watching the host Rebels pull late comebacks in the first two games on Tuesday, the Golden Knights got serious in the third and brought an abrupt end to the match with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-17 win.
"When we focus, we're pretty solid," said St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee, who got 15 kills from Michael Bacall and 14 from Charles McCarthy. "It's just everybody's got to have their head into it and I think it kind of got away from them a little bit.
"Some of the kids know each other. ...[The match] was a little more social at one point and they were turning it on and off. Sometimes that can come back and bite you pretty hard."
It never came back to bite the Golden Knights (10-4) on Tuesday, although they did build sizable leads late in the first two games, only to see the Rebels (8-9) make a game of it in each.
Focus seemed to be lacking on both sides in the opening game, as the teams combined for 11 service errors. St. Francis overcame six of them to go up, 20-13, on a McCarthy ace, but Prep charged back with an 8-4 run, only to lose the game on a serve into the net.
"That just comes from a lack of concentration," Prep Coach Sean Beattie said of the Rebels' service woes. "We've missed a lot of serves in general this year.
"Again, the guys all know each other, so the intensity sometimes [goes down] — you would think, to me, the intensity would pick up — but sometimes intensity drops. You make a mistake and your friend laughs at you and you kind of laugh with them. I can understand it, it's a nonleague game against a really good school and it's good experience for the kids.
"As long as they give me a good effort, I'm fine with it and they gave a decent effort."
Prep once again fell behind, 20-12, in the second game, but turned the tide again starting with a block from Chadd Cosse. This time, an 8-3 run, capped by one of Kory Hamane's 11 kills, brought the Rebels to within 23-20 before St. Francis got the next two, including a kill by McCarthy to win it.
"Prep is a pretty scrappy team and they played a lot of good, solid defense," Frazee said. "They're capable of putting the ball down and they've got some pretty good athletic guys."
Bacall gave St. Francis a sideout and a 20-14 lead with a kill late in the third game, but this time there would be no drama down the stretch.
"We had significant leads in all the games, but we just [had] I would call it more of a lack of effort, I guess," McCarthy said. "It was good playing on their part."
St. Francis also got seven kills from Wesley Coffey and 42 assists from Chris Thompson, while Prep received seven kills from Kareem Ismail.