LA CRESCENTA — First the Crescenta Valley High boys' volleyball team broke Cerritos' spirit with a decisive win in a pivotal third game.
Then the host Falcons simply broke the match wide open with a fourth-game rout to claim a 25-19, 22-25, 25-14, 25-13 victory in a CIF Southern Section Division III second-round playoff game on Thursday night.
"That was a blast, it was so much fun," said Falcons outside hitter Wesley Cormier, who finished with 10 kills and four blocks and had four kills and an ace in the final game, which Crescenta Valley led by as many as 15 points.
The fourth game was largely a Falcons highlight reel of big hits and scathing kills interspersed with Dons errors as Cerritos became increasingly desperate.
From a 7-4 lead, the Falcons (17-7), who advanced with a five-game win over L.A. Baptist in the first round on Tuesday after finishing third in the Pacific League, went on a crushing 12-0 run that featured kills from Cormier, Vincent Van Hoek (11 kills), Ian Paprocki and Freedom Tripp.
"When they get it rolling, they play pretty good," Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson said of his team, which will meet either Santa Ynez or second-seeded South Torrance in the quarterfinals on Saturday. "[The Dons] were just going for it and just missing, but what are you going to do? You've got to go for it at that point."
The Falcons saw Cerritos (20-6), which won the Suburban League and ended the regular season ranked seventh in the division before beating Gabrielino in the first round, come from behind to win the second game and even the match.
The setback didn't dissuade the Falcons from coming back and building another lead early in the third game, this their biggest of the match, 16-9. Cormier had two kills during the Falcons' 5-0 run. The Dons never got a chance to mount a comeback, though, as Crescenta Valley kept a foot to the pedal and closed out the game on an 8-1 spurt that included a four-point service run from Cormier and four kills from Grant Chappell.
"We just kept our focus, kept swinging hard," Cormier said. "We stayed on track. We didn't worry about what they were doing, we worried about what we were doing."
Crescenta Valley's first-game win got an early boost from a six-point service run by Chappell, which gave the Falcons a 10-4 advantage.
Cerritos would battle back to within 21-18, but Cormier halted the rally with a block for a sideout and Van Hoek followed with a kill to spark a 4-1 clinching run.
Crescenta Valley again took a lead early in the second game and held it, leading by as many as five at 15-10. But this time the Dons came all the way back, tying the match at 20 before going up, 23-21.
Paprocki notched a kill to slow the Dons' progress at 23-22, but Crescenta Valley then faced an immediate sideout on a block, which led to game point.