By Rick Assad
Tempo and tone were established early by the Burbank High boys’ volleyball team on Monday afternoon in a Pacific League match.
After two sets the host Bulldogs were ahead and despite a third-game setback, the fourth set proved to be the final one as Burbank walked away with a 25-19, 25-20, 18-25, 25-18 triumph over the Apaches.
Several players stood tall for the Bulldogs and they included Christian Choe, Jonathan Coleman and Choy Jimenez.
“We moved the ball around well. Christian played fantastic. He really stepped up on defense and ran a great offense for us,” said Burbank coach Patrick Tyler of Choe, who delivered 17 digs.
The match-clinching set was tied six times, but saw the Bulldogs storm ahead 5-2 on a kill from Alekhine Basco [seven digs and three kills].
The Apaches rallied and evened it at 7-7 on a service winner from Brandon Wong.
It was deadlocked at 10-10 on a winner from Arcadia’s Kevin Nakaishi.
The score was 13-13 when Burbank’s Matthew Ballash [five kills and two digs] nudged the ball out of bounds.
At this juncture, Burbank, which entered the match having defeated Crescenta Valley in four sets, gathered itself and darted ahead 17-13 on Jimenez’s kill.
Another dagger from Jimenez [15 kills and eight digs] handed the Bulldogs a 22-15 edge and Jimenez’s smash gave the Bulldogs a 24-17 advantage.
The game and match was recorded into the books when Matt Le’s service fell into the net.
Burbank took a one-game lead after falling behind 3-1 on a push from Josh Yeh.
The Bulldogs (2-0 overall and 2-0 in league) then scored the next two points including a winner from Coleman, who finished with 15 kills and eight digs.
“Jonathan and Choy executed as well as they could,” Tyler said. “We rely on them and they always answer the call.”
Burbank seized control of the initial set after moving ahead 12-6 on Jimenez’s kill.
When Jimenez added another rocket it became 18-8 and Burbank’s lead was stretched to 22-13 on Coleman’s kill.
Jimenez wasn’t through as he tacked on yet another winner that made it 24-18.
When Arcadia’s Darren Yang sent a service out of bounds, the first set was finalized.
The second game was tied five times, including 3-3 on a bullet from Ballash.
Burbank’s advantage then swelled to 6-3 on Coleman’s rocket, and after the Apaches (2-3 in all matches and 0-3 in league) led 9-8 on Isaiah Marsh’s net serve, Basco’s kill evened it at 9-9.
The Bulldogs moved in front 11-10 on a kill from Jimenez and 13-11 on another winner from Jimenez.
Coleman’s tapper pushed the cushion to 17-12 and then 19-13 on a blast from Coleman.
Burbank pulled in front 23-18 on a dagger from Jimenez and then bolted ahead 24-18 when Arcadia’s Aidan Yang hammered the ball out of bounds.
The second set was sealed when Aidan Yang floated the serve way out of bounds.
Arcadia’s best set was the third as it rallied after falling behind 4-2 and 8-5 as Burbank’s Daniel Soriano hit the net.
Tyler said they changed strategy after the second game and it cost them.
“We moved away from what was working for us in set three and they made great adjustments,” he said. “Arcadia is a strong team and their outsides did a great job mixing it up.”
A block from Aidan Yang tied it at 8-8 and it was once again knotted, this time at 11-11, on a push from Le.
The Apaches marched in front 16-12 on a hit from Yeh and 19-14 on a tapper from Yeh.
“It’s our pattern the whole season. It’s always the first contact. We couldn’t pass in. We couldn’t consistently serve. The service errors were horrendous and the same thing with passing errors,” Arcadia coach Sen-Ho Meng explained. “Although it got better with my freshman libero, there’s a lot of hesitancy on hitting as well as sporadic hitting moments. We were successful, yet there were times they were hesitant.”
Meng then added: “The other problem is there were open shots they could have taken not hitting the ball. The quick points. The easy points. They could have gone to the donut or gone to the corners,” he said. “The simple stuff they could have done mentally, they didn’t do. They couldn’t sustain it.”
Wong’s winner made it 23-17 and Wong’s service ace secured the set for the Apaches.
Burbank’s Meena Ammari ended the match with a team and match-best 24 digs.