GLENDALE — Burroughs High came into its Pacific League girls' volleyball matchup against host Glendale nipping at Arcadia's heels for a share of the top spot on the leader board and facing a Nitros program that had never so much as won a game against the Indians the since they joined the league.
By the time it was over, the Indians had overcome a somewhat lethargic effort to escape with a 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 25-22 victory that, coupled with Burbank's defeat of Arcadia taking place at the same time, ties Burroughs with the Apaches atop the Pacific League.
"The energy level was poor," Burroughs Coach Edwin Real said. "[Glendale's] energy level was great. ...If our energy is high we play well."
Not to be overlooked for Glendale, which continued its much-improved campaign, in Tuesday afternoon's defeat was the Nitros' triumph in game three. The three-point victory marks the first time that Glendale has taken a game from the Indians since Burroughs joined the Pacific League in 2006. Going into the game the Indians were a perfect 45-0, covering seven consecutive sweeps, including a 3-0 win at home over Glendale in mid-September.
"Even if we made a mistake we pulled each other up," Glendale senior Kirsten Cabarong said. "I'm glad that we did that because we pulled through to four sets."
Burroughs (10-5, 7-1) grabbed the lead for good late in game one as both squads struggled to get going. After being tied at 13, the Indians got going and led by as many as six before claiming the opening game on a kill through two blockers by Indians senior Katie Rutecki, who finished with eight kills for the match, giving the visitors a 25-20 win.
Game two was also tight, as the teams remained in close contact throughout the early part of the game. Rutecki broke a 16-16 deadlock with a kill on a soft touch over the net and Burroughs did not trail again, as the Indians outscored their hosts, 8-2, the rest of the way. Three of those points came off of kills by middle blocker Caitlin Cottrell, who led all players with 24 kills.
"Glendale played great defense," Real, who has coached the Indians since 2003, said. "They were fighting. We were fighting too. They were fighting a little harder and that makes a difference in points. A couple of those games we barely skated out of. We are happy we won."
Game three saw Glendale (4-4 in the Pacific) cling to a razor-thin advantage throughout once Burroughs gave up the lead for good after being up, 10-9. After that, the Indians knotted the score eight times, but could get never back on top as the Nitros seized the opportunity for the historic game victory. Ivanna Gamboa finished the 25-22 win for her squad with a two-handed stuff of an errant Burroughs pass that sailed over the net.
"I think we got frustrated," Cottrell said of her team's inability to dig out a win in game three.
In game four, Glendale continued its energetic play and strong hitting, holding the lead in the early stages and staying right with the Indians throughout. The game was tied at 22 before Burroughs sophomore Alexis Hamilton stepped up and recorded two consecutive kills from the outside. Cottrell sealed the deal with her twenty-fourth kill of the match from her center position off the Nitros block.
"We kind of underestimated them in the beginning," Cottrell said, "but we came back overall and our energy level was up in the end."
Burroughs is now tied with defending champion Arcadia in Pacific League play with six games to go, none more pressing than its Oct. 24 road matchup with the Apaches.
"The bottom line is we have to beat Arcadia, that is the bottom line," Real said.