LA CRESCENTA — An unlikely CIF Southern Section Division III playoff run that began with a come-from-behind victory over the 10th-seeded squad, followed by a win against the No. 7 team, came to a screeching halt Saturday evening for the Crescenta Valley boys' volleyball team.
The unranked Falcons dropped their quarterfinal match against visiting No. 2 seed South Torrance, 25-15, 22-25, 25-18, 25-21.
"Like I told my guys, they made a couple big plays that we didn't. We missed a couple. And when you play a good team, that's what happens," Falcons Coach John Nelson said. "But I'm really proud of my guys. It's been fantastic coaching them. They're not just great players, but great people and they have a lot character. They left everything they had on the floor. Other than a win, I couldn't ask them to do anymore than what they did."
Crescenta Valley (19-10), which finished third in the Pacific League, won its opening-round match against L.A. Baptist after dropping the first two sets and it closed out Cerritos on Thursday in four.
But on Saturday, the Falcons struggled to get going offensively.
They had seven kills in the first game, getting the rest of the points on South's miscues. Crescenta Valley emerged victorious in a see-saw battle in the second, capping a 3-0 run to close on Grant Chappell's feed to Wesley Cormier.
That momentum carried over into the third game, when the Falcons scored five straight, aided by a pair of Cormier kills and a Van Hoek ace. Yet, they quickly fell behind, 6-5, before tying it at 12. The Spartans (28-7), however, responded by ripping off a 10-2 run.
"When we brought intensity, we were winning. When we didn't have the intensity, we were losing," Falcons senior Vincent Van Hoek said. "We're a great team. ...We definitely did our best and it was a good way to lose. I know it's weird kind of saying that, but they're a great team."
In the fourth game, Crescenta Valley kept it close throughout. In fact, Chappell's tip-in brought the Falcons within 12-11, but the Spartans answered right back with three straight to extent the lead, 15-11.
Ahead 21-19, South's Kenichi Hackman (11 kills) scored to get a three-point cushion. But Chappell found Cormier for a kill to slice it back to two, 22-20.
South then used a 3-1 run to close out the game and advance to the semifinals.
"We're definitely proud of what we did this year," Cormier said. "We came out, had a good season and lost to a good team. They were a better team, but we just went out and had fun."
Cormier led Crescenta Valley with 11 kills, Van Hoek added six, and Chappell doled out 25 assists.
"This past week has been outstanding," Nelson said. "We finished with the second-most wins in school history, so it was a great year. We had a lot of good performances, I just hate to see it end. But if it's got to end, at least we played hard.
"I'm way proud of what these guys have done. Being unranked and having no one think we're that good, they did a good job. It was really fun."