Area squads' CIF paths clearer

There won't be much time for the four playoff-bound area boys' volleyball teams to prepare for their first-round matchups, which were revealed by the CIF Southern Section Saturday morning and will be played at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.

Two Pacific League teams, Burroughs and Crescenta Valley, will open play in Division III, while St. Francis faces an uphill climb in Division I and Providence will measure its progress against a team it faced earlier this year in Division V.

Burroughs hasn't met up with its first-round foe, Village Christian, since last April at the Crescenta Valley Varsity Tournament. Indians Coach Joel Brinton said the Crusaders lineup has changed since then, but he is ultimately most concerned with sharpening his own team's focus after a loss to Claremont in the regular-season finale on Tuesday forced the two-time defending Pacific League champions to share the league title with the Wolfpack.

"I think we will match up well with them if we play to our strengths," said Brinton, whose team (18-4) will host the Crusaders (10-10), who finished third in the Olympic League. "There's no time now for excuses or slip ups.

"We really need to focus on playing our style of volleyball. In all of our losses, we've gotten away from what we like to do. For us, it starts with receiving well, being able to run our middles and so much of our game is based off our serving."

Possible second-round matchups on Thursday for the Indians would be Empire League-champion Yorba Linda (22-9) or Suburban League third-place John Glenn (8-11).

Crescenta Valley (15-7) finished third in the Pacific League and must now go on the road to face Olympic League-champion L.A. Baptist. If the Falcons can make their way to the second round, a matchup with either Suburban League-champion Cerritos (19-5) or Rio Hondo League third-place Gabrielino (11-9) will be waiting.

St. Francis (12-5), which finished fourth in the competitive Mission League, has a tough draw in traveling to No. 2 seed Esperanza (23-9), which won the Century League championship and has four Division I college-bound players.

"It's definitely going to be tough going into their house," said St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee, whose team is making its first postseason appearance in eight years. "We know what a good team they are. We're going to have to come out and play some really solid ball."

A second-round clash with either Bay League third-place Redondo Union (20-12) or Marmonte League runner-up Thousand Oaks (18-8) awaits the Golden Knights should they pull off a first-round upset.

Providence (13-8) got a look at Ambassador League winner Ontario Christian (16-4) earlier this season when the Liberty League runner-up Pioneers beat the Knights on March 3 in the Providence Tournament.

"I remember they were pretty tall and they ran a pretty quick offense mostly to the outsides," Providence Coach Josh Eggleston said. "Throughout the course of the year, they've been improving."

The senior-laden Knights have experience and a size advantage, but Eggleston said if his team can stick to its game, it can repeat its earlier win.

"My guys have a pretty big volleyball IQ, so we're able to make adjustments on the fly pretty well," said Eggleston, whose team would play either International League Mesrobian (6-5) or Santa Fe League runner-up Vistamar (15-5) in the next round.

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