Falcons finish with fifth-place flurry

LA CRESCENTA — There's a certain pressure a home team feels in hosting a tournament, especially one as successful as the Crescenta Valley High boys' volleyball tournament.

After two days of competition, there was a general thumbs up from the Crescenta Valley camp, as the Falcons finished Saturday's final day of the tournament's two-day competition with an overall 3-2 record and a fifth-place showing in the tournament's elite Gold Division.

"We're getting better," Falcons Coach John Nelson said at the conclusion of tournament. "We're a little bit up and down right now, but our goal since the beginning of the year was to play our best volleyball of the season as the playoffs begin.

"The playoffs are right around the corner and we had a good showing today."

The Falcons (16-9) finished 2-1 on Saturday with a penchant for rallying, which was displayed in a 26-28, 25-15, 15-9 fifth-place match victory over Van Nuys (22-13).

Despite the momentum from a win in the second game, the Falcons immediately fell behind the Wolves, 3-0, and trailed by three as late as 8-5 in the third game.

It was at that juncture the Falcons rebounded with a crucial 5-0 run spearheaded by a kill and two aces from Ian Paprocki and Crescenta Valley led, 10-8, after a kill from Freedom Tripp.

While the Wolves pulled within 10-9 on a service error, Crescenta Valley scored the final five points, two via blocks from Vincent Van Hoek, to win, 15-9.

"This was pretty good and the competition was definitely intense," said Falcons outside hitter Wesley Cormier, who finished with 12 kills in the Van Nuys victory. "We've grown a lot as a team and we did well in this tournament."

Paprocki added nine kills, two aces and two blocks, Van Hoek chipped in seven kills, four blocks and an ace and Michael Linvill and Tripp added three kills apiece.

The Falcons also found themselves down, 1-0, in their previous match against Pasadena Poly (16-8), as the Panthers won the first game, 25-23, with the last point coming on an illegal back-row attack.

From the mistake, the Falcons came out firing in the second game and scored nine of the first 10 points in rolling to a 25-8 victory.

That win was followed with another easy 15-4 victory in the deciding third game, as Cormier secured the triumph with a kill through the dig attempt of Poly setter Brian Ward.

"I'm not exactly sure what it is about this team, but sometimes we need to fall behind before we wake up," Nelson said. "Against Poly and against Van Nuys, we just started out flat, dropped a set and were forced to come back to win."

Crescenta Valley began Saturday's action with a loss to Oaks Christian, 25-20, 25-15, which forced the Falcons into the Gold Division consolation bracket.

Overall, Verdugo Hills (31-5) proved the tournament's champion, beating Arroyo Grande, 25-18, 25-21, in the title game.

The victor was rewarded with the spoils of a first-place trophy, the tournament MVP plaque — which was awarded to senior outside hitter CJ Suarez — and two tournament first-team selections in defensive specialist Peter Nahas and middle hitter Joe Arechiga.

Arroyo Grande libero Tanner Howard and setter Jack Empey were also named to the first team as was Oaks Christian middle blocker Derrick Sokol.

Verdugo Hills claimed the vacant crown of two-time champion Burroughs, which did not participate this year.

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