Crescenta Valley High finally opens league with sweep of Hoover

GLENDALE — Heading into Wednesday, all but one Pacific League boys’ volleyball team had already opened league play, with one squad, Arcadia, having four matches under its belt.

Crescenta Valley, however, was waiting and biding its time in anticipation of its league opener. In the meantime, the Falcons had registered an undefeated record, won the San Gabriel Tournament and notched some quality wins.

Crescenta Valley finally got the chance to open league play Wednesday afternoon against Hoover, which was taking part in its fourth league matchup. After overcoming some uneven play in the first two games, the Falcons put things together and walked away with a 25-15, 25-21, 25-15 victory against the host Tornadoes.

“We have been looking forward to this,” Crescenta Valley’s Bradley Fernandez said about the first league contest. “Since we won that tournament, we’ve been really excited about being able to open league. We have been looking pretty good so far, so hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going.”

The win is the 11th in a row to start the season for the Falcons, who are only listed among “Others” in this week’s CIF Southern Section Division II poll.

“With the different vacations schedules with all the school districts in our league, that’s why some teams have played more games already in league,” Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson said. “It makes it kind of tough, but that’s just how it is.”

The coach said although his team’s current winning streak is a nice accomplishment, it’s not something he uses as motivation for his players.

“Truly, we don’t even talk about it,” Nelson said. “That’s not the most important thing for us. The most important thing is the league game that we’re playing at the time.”

While the Falcons have been able to thrive thus far, it has been the opposite for Hoover (1-6-1, 0-4 in league), as the young Tornadoes have experienced their share of growing pains this season.

“I have a very young team with one senior, one junior and most of the rest of them are sophomores,” Hoover Coach Gaby Gallardo. “So, they are still learning and still trying to play as a team together. It’s hard now for us and it’s a struggle, but they are playing the best that they can and I’m proud of them.”

The Falcons received a solid effort from Hernandez, who tallied a match-high 12 kills. Teammate Zachary Burch added nine kills and Christopher Han chipped in with eight.

Crescenta Valley began the first game a bit shaky, as the Tornadoes took a 3-1 advantage. However, the Falcons battled back and took the lead at 5-4 following a kill by John Tao. Hoover kept it close for a short time, but then the Falcons revved up their offense and pulled away.

The Tornadoes could muster just four kills in the first game compared to the Falcons’ 15.

“We did start a little slow, but that happens,” Nelson said.

It was a different story in the second game, as Hoover came out invigorated. It jumped out to a 10-4 lead and still maintained the cushion at 14-8. When Hoover took a 16-13 advantage, it already eclipsed its kill total (five) from the first game. But the Tornadoes let the Falcons stick around. When the Hoover committed a hitting error, Crescenta Valley was able to enjoy its first lead of the frame, 21-20. The Falcons then outscored the Tornadoes, 7-2, to close out the second game.

Crescenta Valley led wire to wire in the third game, as its offense finally started to come together.

Hoover received six kills from Brandon Knight and five from Brandon Estrada.

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