LA CAÑADA — Looking around the court, Mike Lii has seen something stand out concerning the Flintridge Prep boys’ volleyball team.
“We are a lot more focused and we try to keep each other in check,” said Lii, who recorded 31 assists Wednesday to help host Flintridge Prep record a 28-26, 25-20, 25-18 Prep League win against Rio Hondo Prep and inch closer to winning its first league title since 2010. “We might not have been that way all the time the last couple of years, but we know what we need to do to be successful right now.”
The Rebels have enjoyed plenty of success since opening the season with three losses in a row and are ranked eighth in the latest CIF Southern Section Division IV poll. They improved to 15-6, 6-0 in league and have lost just one league game.
Flintridge Prep received a sturdy test from Rio Hondo Prep (12-4, 2-3) on Wednesday. In fact, the Kares are the only team to win a league game against the Rebels, accomplishing the feat March 21 during Flintridge Prep’s 25-17, 25-23, 24-26, 25-19 road win.
“We found ourselves in two tough battles with Rio Hondo Prep,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Sean Beattie, whose team can wrap up at least a share of the league championship with a victory at Chadwick — the two-time reigning Division V champion — on Wednesday. “We are one step closer to winning league and one of the goals for our guys is to go undefeated in league.
“I think we’ve progressed nicely and that starts with being a complete team and playing well in winning. They have matured and don’t let the little things frustrate them.”
Flintridge Prep, which won its eight consecutive match, received 10 kills from Tyler Weakland and nine kills and five blocks from Kareem Ismail. It also got seven kills from Dante Fregoso.
Rio Hondo Prep took a 24-23 lead in the first game before Flintridge Prep recovered to take a 25-24 lead on a kill by Ismail. The Kares caught Flintridge Prep at 26-all on a kill by Jake Holguin. However, Flintridge Prep grabbed the final two points to take a 1-0 lead.
“You win a game like that and it just gives you that much more confidence,” said Beattie, whose team shared the league crown in 2010 with Pasadena Poly and Chadwick.
A kill by Ismail gave the Rebels a 17-12 lead in the second game. Rio Hondo Prep bounced back to tie it at 17 before Flintridge Prep closed out on an 8-3 run.
Flintridge Prep used a 9-0 run to take a 16-7 lead in the third game and never looked back. Ismail had three kills in that stretch.