Prep outlasts late rallies from La Cañada

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Just a month earlier, the Flintridge Prep boys' volleyball team had to fight for a five-game victory over La Cañada High.

The Rebels picked up a three-game sweep Thursday, 25-16, 25-23, 25-19, as they held off Spartans rallies each game.

"The first time we played [La Cañada] it was about the fourth match of the season and we were all coming up from junior varsity," Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie said. "We're a little more comfortable with where we are right now toward the end of the season. Offensively we did much better, too."

La Cañada (3-12) put together a 4-0 run in the first game, but still dropped the opener, 25-16, as Kareem Ismail racked up five kills and two blocks in the game before finishing with a match-high 10 kills and two blocks.

"This time we knew what to expect," Ismail said. "We practiced our weaknesses from the last match [with La Cañada] in yesterday's practice."

Prep also got nine kills from Chad Cosse and Kory Hamane. The Rebels got four kills, four aces and 32 assists from Michael Lii.

Late rallies were a theme the Spartans carried through the remaining two games, without claiming a victory in either.

"We always get off to really bad starts — that's been the problem the whole season — and then we start playing," La Cañada Coach David Woo said.

The Rebels took a 12-7 edge in the opener, but La Cañada cut back into the deficit down, 22-12, as it used a 4-0 run to bring the score to 22-16. Prep (9-10) capitalized on a Spartans serving error, as ensuing kills from Ismail and Cosse clinched a first-game victory.

The second game was tightly contested, as it featured eight ties and three lead changes. La Cañada took its first lead of the match with a 5-0 run, 19-18, but Prep regrouped out of a timeout to tie the game at 22.

The Spartans kept the lead on a kill from Peter Gilmour, but gave up three straight points on a hitting error and kills from Lii and Ismail that ended the second game, 25-23.

"We just have no quit and that's a good thing," Beattie said. "When things are going wrong we make five mistakes or so and then come back and win the game."

Prep took a 20-9 lead in the third and final game before La Cañada mounted a late rally with a 10-2 run, highlighted by four Rebels errors, but Prep regrouped with three straight kills from Ismail and Cosse out of a timeout to clinch the sweep.

"We have a tendency to play on an emotional roller coaster, which is the worst thing we can do," Beattie said. "We have a tendency to get up really high, make two of three mistakes and [the other team] goes on a big run. The good thing is we can control our emotions at the end and make a big run."

La Cañada received a team-high in kills (seven) and blocks (five) from Gilmour. The Spartans also got five kills, four blocks and an ace from Jonathan Sullivan and four kills from Orion Burl.

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