LA CRESCENTA — For the first two games of Tuesday's Pacific League girls' volleyball match, Crescenta Valley High and Burbank took turns taking big leads in splitting the two stanzas.
It was a different story in the third and fourth games, however, as the Falcons and Bulldogs were engaged in tighter contests. But the result was much the same, with the teams taking a game each and forcing a winner-take-all fifth set.
In the fifth, Burbank took advantage of Crescenta Valley errors late to earn the win in a 25-23, 14-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory on the Falcons' home court.
The victory avenged a five-game loss to the Falcons by the host Bulldogs on Sept. 26.
With the win, the Bulldogs (10-6, 7-3 in league) — the co-defending league champions — remain in third place in league behind leaders Burroughs (12-5, 9-1) and Arcadia (13-3, 9-1).
With the teams tied at two games apiece heading into the fifth game, Burbank Coach Sarah Brown thought her team needed some motivation.
"I gave them my 'Miracle' speech," Brown said of the motion picture about Herb Brooks and the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's ice hockey team. "If you've seen the movie you know what I'm talking about. I just love that movie. I just told them that they have been working really hard and they have been coming to the gym everyday and they deserve to win the fifth game. I told them they just need to go out there and take it."
Early on in the fifth game, Crescenta Valley (10-7, 5-5) was able to take a 4-3 lead on an ace by Rosa Kwak. The Falcons maintained the advantage until a Burbank kill by Sara Treadway game the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead. The Falcons did come back to tie the score at 9 before three Crescenta Valley unforced errors down the stretch allowed Burbank to close out the match.
"We just ran out of gas in that fifth game, mentally more than physically," Crescenta Valley Coach Jen Ku Lee said.
"But we've had problems against the top teams in our league and we seem to always come out flat. Sometimes one game, one little point, one little mistake can make the difference. That's why I tell them you always have to play hard for every point."
Burbank received a fine effort from Rose Cowart, who had 14 kills and 14 digs. Teammate Allison Tiegs added 14 kills, Ashlyn Edwards tallied eight kills and 18 digs and Lily Winn had 21 digs.
The first game saw Burbank take control early, jumping out to an 11-1 lead. It took the Falcons a while, but they slowly chipped away at the lead and erased the advantage by knotting the score at 23 on a kill by Micaela Guarino (13 kills). But the Bulldogs seized back control and eventually won the game on a kill by Coward.
Things were switched in the second game, with the Falcons rolling to a 10-3 lead. The Bulldogs cut the advantage to three, 16-13, on a Crescenta Valley error, but that would be as close as they would come.
Things were tight in the fourth game, with neither squad being able to take more than a four-point lead. Burbank had the lead late, 23-22, but a stuff block by Cassidy Iannello and consecutive kills by Guarino and Nannette Grigorian allowed the Falcons to take the game.
"After that third game, we just decided that we had to pick it up and elevate our game," Tiegs said. "We knew it was going to be tough, but we had to give it our best effort."
The motivation worked, as the Bulldogs led by eight in the fourth, 23-15. But the Falcons embarked on an 8-1 run and were within one, 24-23. However, a kill by Coward ended the threat and forced a fifth game.
"I told my team that we had to kill the ball early," Lee said. "Because I know coach Brown's teams and you don't want to get into a rally battle with them. They are a feisty team and they were able to play well enough to win."
Emmie Walker had 15 kills for Crescenta Valley.