BURBANK — The Burroughs High girls' volleyball team won their fifth straight match Thursday at home, sweeping Crescenta Valley 25-14, 25-16, 25-17.
In that stretch, the Indians have lost just two games and, by all accounts, the team is focused and in playoff mode.
"I told the girls, we're playing for first place every match," said Burroughs Coach Edwin Real, who saw his team move into a tie atop the Pacific League standings with a win on Tuesday coupled with Arcadia's loss. "Today, we played for first. On Tuesday, we'll be playing for first and on Thursday we'll be playing for first."
Burroughs will host last-place Muir Tuesday before traveling to Arcadia for a big match against the Apaches on Thursday.
There was no overlooking the task at hand, however. The Falcons took the Indians to five games on Sept. 24 before ultimately losing. This time around, Burroughs (11-5, 8-1 in league) showed unwavering focus.
"We came out with energy," said Indians middle blocker Caitlin Cottrell, who led the team with 15 kills. "We knew what they were going to do and when they were going to do it. We were prepared and worked as a team."
Coach Jen Ku Lee's Falcons squad regressed from the last meeting and couldn't get anything going against Burroughs.
"We were flat the first two games," Lee said. "When you come out flat against this team [it's not good]."
"We've played better. We took them to five at home, but with away games you have the crowd on their side, and who knows what they're yelling. Overall, we could have done better."
The Falcons (10-6, 5-4) scored the opening point of the match and it would be the lone lead they held in the contest. Burroughs quickly took control of the opening game after the teams were knotted at 5. Crescenta Valley hurt itself with double-touch penalties and service errors, as the Indians capitalized with a potent offense of their own en route to scoring 20 of the game's final 29 points to cruise to the win.
After an early tie in the second game, Burroughs led the remainder of the match, leading by as many as 11 points in the second frame. Senior Katie Rutecki's pair of kills and a service ace midway through highlighted a relatively undemanding game.
Rutecki finished the match with six kills and 13 assists.
For the Falcons, Emmi Walker and Micaela Guarino had five kills apiece. Cassidy Iannello had 11 assists.
With Crescenta Valley's junior varsity squad in the stands for the third game, and canceling out Burroughs' crowd, the Falcons ignored the scoreboard and played with high energy, resulting in scoring more than in the previous two games.
Another double-digit deficit would prove insurmountable, however, as the Indians never let up.
"We came out pretty strong," Real said. "Over there [at Crescenta Valley High], we didn't play as good as we're capable of, so we wanted to show them we're better than that. We responded well, pressed the gas pedal and didn't let up.
"It's nice to see. In past games, we've started strong, but haven't sustained it."