By Rick Assad
It took 70 minutes for the Burbank High boys’ volleyball team to fall to Crescenta Valley.
The Falcons swept the host Bulldogs 25-15, 25-18, 25-20 on Friday afternoon in a Pacific League match and in all three sets, Crescenta Valley never trailed and built an early lead in all each game.
Burbank (1-5 and 1-1 in league) did play much better in the final set, but still couldn’t get over the hump.
James Cowart, the first-year Burbank coach said that even with the setback, there is still something to be garnered by the loss.
“The boys showed some life during the match. I was looking forward to our hitters playing more aggressively against CV, as I believe that we are well equipped to compete against them,” he said. “Being so fresh with the program and still learning how to work with each other definitely presents challenges that we’re still working out together as a program. I’m constantly learning new things as a head coach and the boys are also learning new techniques. We’re 1-1 in league, so I’m not concerned with the loss, as this provided much needed experience for us as a program.”
A former player for the Bulldogs, Cowart saw numerous bright spots. “There were many great instances during the match such as my setter [sophomore] Ryan Viyar and libero [junior] Ian Villaflor both stepped up to the line and showed me that they’re hungry and ready to compete,” he said.
Cowart added: “My hitters [junior] Noah Lintag, [junior] Taiyo Nakao, [sophomore] Kai Cruz, [junior] Austin Kim, [junior] Alex Gevdzhyan and [junior] Akash Kodavati all showed great results of being aggressive on blocking and strategic with their hitting attempts,” he said. “I look forward to competing against CV again later this season to truly show them who we are as a program. We’ll be ready and hungry to play them again.”
On the opposite bench, Crescenta Valley coach John Nelson was also pleased at what he witnessed.
“Our team is getting better. I think we can be pretty competitive if we can continue to improve,” said Nelson, who is in his 32nd season as the Falcons’ leader. “The team works hard and has a great attitude, so they could be pretty good.”
The third frame commenced with the Falcons racing to 4-0 advantage and then pushed ahead 8-1 on an ace from senior outside hitter Evan Boyle, who will be attending San Diego State and will play on the men’s volleyball squad.
A service winner from senior opposite hitter John Risso made it 12-4, but the Bulldogs gathered the troops and drew within 13-8 on a service ace from senior Justin Marmeto.
When the Falcons’ senior libero Ethan Paransky served up an ace, the Crescenta Valley lead jumped to 16-8.
Boyle’s push made it 17-10 and sophomore setter Matthew Hong’s back-to-back aces extended the margin to 18-10 and 19-10.
An ace from junior outside hitter Dylan Hsu handed the Falcons a 21-13 cushion, but the hosts pulled together and came within 21-16 on an ace from Viyar and then 21-17 on a tapper from outside hitter Taiyo Nakao.
The Falcons righted the ship and took four of the next seven points and when middle blocker Kim’s serve scrapped the net, the match was in the books.
Crescenta Valley (8-3 and 2-0 in league) cruised to a 5-0 lead in the first set as senior middle hitter Noah Kim had a block. A 5-2 spurt followed as Paransky delivered a service ace that made it 10-2.
Boyle’s bullet gave the Falcons a 13-6 lead and it blossomed to 15-6 on an ace from senior outside/opposite hitter Mason Ouye.
A kill from Boyle stretched the margin to 16-7 and the lead became 18-9 when Boyle added yet another spike.
Boyle then added a pair of aces that made it 20-10 and 22-10 and in between Noah Kim had a kill.
Ouye’s winner made it 24-13 and when Ouye contributed a push, the second set was made official.
The middle game began with the Falcons rushing to a 6-0 lead on a kill from junior outside/opposite hitter Jason Nelson.
Crescenta Valley then cobbled together a 5-3 burst and pulled in front 11-3 on an ace from Paransky.
Noah Kim’s push saw Crescenta Valley take a 15-10 lead. A stuff from Ouye made it 17-12 and consecutive service winners from Paransky saw the lead stretch to 20-12 and 21-12.
The Bulldogs came alive as Austin Kim’s two kills enabled Burbank to get within 22-13.
Sophomore middle hitter Logan Freemon then added a spike for the Falcons that made it 23-17 and the middle set was clinched when outside hitter Lintag’s blast went out of bounds.