When it comes to five-game matches, Coach David Woo's teams usually walk out of the gym with a win.
It was a different story Tuesday, though, as the La Cañada High boys' volleyball team went into a fifth game against South Pasadena, after pulling out victories in three previous matches that also went five games this year.
South Pasadena got out to an early 3-0 run in the final game to pull out the dramatic 24-26, 25-18, 21-25, 25-18, 15-11 win. It was the Tigers' (4-12, 1-1 in the Rio Hondo League) first victory in exactly one month.
"I'm actually 6-2 in five-game matches in my two years here, so this is kind of weird," said Woo, whose Spartans fell to 7-9, 1-2. "Usually, when game five rolls around we hit another gear; today we didn't hit that gear. We didn't capitalize when they made mistakes; it just wasn't our day."
The Tigers committed three service errors in the fifth game but held on for the win, as Robert Adamson had five kills in the final game, including two of South Pasadena's final three points.
"He got hot today, and I told our setter to get him the ball when he's hot like that," South Pasadena Coach Todd Terzian said of Adamson, who finished the game with 16 kills and five aces. "I'd say offensively, he was the difference in the end. Our defense, our blocking and our passing all set him up to do that, though."
Thomas Adamson, Robert's brother, finished the game with 13 kills.
There were no secrets between the two teams heading into the game, Woo said.
"Their hitters just put the ball away and we didn't," Woo said. "We knew the Adamson brothers were their two main hitters, and they knew our middles [Sean Mintie and Matt Faber] were our two main hitters. It was like a chess match."
Faber and Mintie finished the game with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, but were shut down in the final game. Mintie had just one kill in the fifth game, and Faber didn't have any.
"We stepped up our play a little bit and brought some resistance to that middle attack La Cañada has," Terzian said.
The match was close from the beginning, as La Cañada won the first game, in which neither team had led by more than three points.
South Pasadena jumped out to a 21-11 lead in the second game, pulling out a win easily.
Both teams kept exchanging blows, as La Cañada won the third game and the Tigers took the fourth.
Greg Moore finished with 12 digs for the Spartans, while John Sullivan had nine digs and five aces; Faber also had five blocks.
The Spartans face Gabrielino on the road today at 3:30 p.m. in a Rio Hondo League match. Woo knows his team will have to come back home with a win.
"Thursday is a really big game for us," Woo said. "We can't fall back 1-3 in league and expect to run the league."