Falcons pull off playoff rally

NORTH HILLS — Just a game away from its season ending and roughly a decade removed from its last first-round playoff triumph, the Crescenta Valley High boys' volleyball team had quite the obstacle to overcome in a short period of time.

In less than an hour, the Falcons turned a bleak situation into a positive one by rallying for a 22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-14, 15-12 CIF Southern Section Division III road win against L.A. Baptist on Tuesday night.

In some respects, the Falcons (18-9) relished the opportunity of being in the tenuous position of having to comeback from a 2-0 deficit.

"It's not like we played badly in the first two games," said Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson, whose team will next meet visiting Cerritos, which beat Gabrielino, in a second-round match at 7 p.m. Thursday. "That was fun in having to comeback.

"I thought we were a little tight in the first two games, but then you are in a position of going for it.

"This is something that will definitely give us confidence. I told them after the second game that they could come back. They believed they could do it."

The Falcons, who finished third in the Pacific League, turned to Wesley Cormier in the fifth game to finish off the Knights (24-3). Cormier had two kills and two key aces in the finale.

With the Falcons and Knights deadlocked at 12, Cormier delivered two aces in a row to make it 14-12 before a hitting error by L.A. Baptist, which won the Olympic League championship, capped the rally.

"It's pretty much all mental," said Cormier, who finished with 11 kills and three aces. "We knew what we needed to do. We played our game, passed better and ran some set plays. We felt like we had the momentum going into the last game."

The Falcons, who are believed to have advanced to the second round for the first time since 2001 and a first-round win over California, led throughout the fourth game, jumping out to a 9-1 lead on a block by Cormier. A kill by Crescenta Valley's Ian Paprocki extended the lead to 20-7.

Crescenta Valley broke open a close third game. The teams were tied at 9 before the Falcons used a 9-2 run to take an 18-11 advantage and in what served as the flashpoint in the Falcons' comeback bid.

"That's where we started," Cormier said. "We kept our focus from then on."

Paprocki finished with nine kills for Crescenta Valley, which got five from Vincent Van Hoek.

The Knights, who used a 5-2 run to close out the first game, got 13 kills from Mark Redondo.


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