LA CAÑADA — Flintridge Prep made the short trip to St. Francis High School to take on the Golden Knights for the second time this season in a nonleague volleyball match.
The contest was scheduled just recently by Rebels Coach Sean Beattie, who wanted to avoid an extended layoff before his No. 9-ranked squad went into the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs next.
“We just scheduled this match a week ago because we were going to have a week off and I wanted to make sure we had a game between our last game and playoffs,” said Beattie, whose team lost to St. Francis in four games earlier in the season. “So what I did was call the closest team I could who I knew was good.”
For the Golden Knights, who missed out on the postseason, it marked a chance to go out with a victory after dropping a contentious five-game match to Chaminade the night before, and to send hard-swinging Charles McCarthy and the rest of the seniors out on a positive note.
The Golden Knights did not let that chance go by and rallied after dropping the first game to win the next three and come out on top 23-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-20.
Fittingly, it was McCarthy who hammered down the final point of the contest from the center of the court and raised both fists in victory as his high school playing days came to an end.
“It was my last hit of my high school season ever,” said McCarthy, who will play next year at Division I University of Pacific, “so it was pretty exciting.”
St. Francis (7-12) was led in kills by McCarthy with 30.
“Charles was a four-year starter and I’ve only had about six since I’ve been here, varsity starters from the time they were [in] ninth grade,” St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee said. “That’s a tough one to replace.”
Fellow senior outside hitter Chris Thompson was second with 12 kills. Sophomore Markar Agakanian contributed eight kills and two blocks. Chris Thompson also had 12 assists, meaning that combined with his brother David, a freshman who had 35 assists, the Thompson brothers totaled 42 assists.
“His little brother is setting him,” Frazee said of the elder Thompson. “So there is that little-brother thing going on which they kind of control. You really don’t see them getting mad at each other, so it’s pretty good.”
The Rebels (17-7) were paced by middle blocker Kareem Ismail, who had 11 kills and seven blocks. Fellow senior and middle blocker Tyler Weakland had 10 kills followed by senior outside hitter Chadd Cosse with eight. Senior setter Mike Lii had 36 assists.
Ismail was especially potent in the first game, when his team was precise with its passing and took over late to come away with the 25-23 win.
“I would say eight of those points were our errors. We were out of position,” Frazee said of losing the opening game. “I didn’t make any rotation or alignment adjustments. We just needed to get the cobwebs out from last night ... refocus and play our game. We cut down on the mistakes greatly.”
Flintridge Prep came out a little disorganized in the second game with ongoing questions about their rotation that included their opponents being awarded a penalty point. A kill by AJ Krappman pushed the Golden Knight lead to double digits for the first time at 15-5, and they hung on from there to win by six.
“We were a little mad,” McCarthy said of dropping the first game, “but we knew we could play better and did. We came back.”
St. Francis led through most of game three until Flintridge Prep tied it at 21, but McCarthy had kills on three of the next four points, allowing his team to finish ahead, 26-24. Although the Rebels stayed close in the final game, they never led and were finished off by McCarthy’s emphatic kill from the center.
“First game we passed really well,” Beattie said. “In games two through four we didn’t pass all that well, and in doing that they know exactly where you are going to set and they seal the block really well.”
With the defeat, Flintridge Prep saw its 10-match win streak come to an end, but still got what it needed out of the hastily scheduled contest.
“That was what this [match] did,” Beattie said about preparing for the playoffs. “[St. Francis] had big hitters, they’ve got great defense, and that’s what we are going to see. This is the first time we have been in Division IV, so the competition in the playoffs is going to be a lot higher. So I wanted to make sure our last game was against a solid team.”