By Rick Assad
Two thoroughbred boys’ volleyball programs took the floor Thursday afternoon in a nonleague match, and one played sublimely.
The other team played well at times and even very well, but it simply wasn’t good enough.
After two relatively close sets and one lopsided third game, St. Francis High proved too good, too deep and too strong after a 25-21, 25-16, 25-13 decision over host Burroughs.
The Golden Knights are skilled and have staying power and this was the decisive matter.
No, they weren’t perfect but executed well when the chips were on the table and ready to be scooped up.
The Bears, who have won 13 straight Pacific League titles under Joel Brinton, the coach, are equally skilled, but it seemed they couldn’t find the second and third gears when they needed it, and this was extremely critical in a match that was going to be a dogfight.
After leading by two games to none, St. Francis (9-3) came out and pulled ahead 12-2 on a hit from junior outside hitter/opposite hitter Will Martinez.
The Golden Knights led 1-0 when Burroughs’ Henry Carlin’s service sailed out of bounds, and it became tied 1-1 when Mark Hopkins evened it with a winner.
St. Francis claimed the next 10 points including an ace from senior outside hitter/opposite hitter Travis Brown as the Bears called time out.
The Golden Knights’ lead became 16-4 on a stuff from senior middle blocker/outside hitter James Clapp.
The visitors seized control 20-7 on a kill from senior middle blocker Blake Welsh.
The Bears cut the advantage to 23-10 on a winner from Owen Dixon and the Golden Knights captured the set and match when Dixon’s service went out of bounds.
The first game began when St. Francis pulled in front 5-3 on back-to-back kills from sophomore outside hitter Ryan Bender, who played with elan.
The Golden Knights led 10-8 on an ace from junior outside hitter Titus Rodz and shifted ahead 14-11 when Bender added a kill.
The Bears came within 14-12 on a push from Ryder Tafoya but the Golden Knights rallied for a 17-13 lead on a service winner senior libero/defensive specialist Trevor Shackelton.
Burroughs (3-5) came within 19-18 on a tapper from Hopkins but the Golden Knights moved in front 21-19 on a kill from Welsh.
Bender’s winner made it 22-20 and the set was concluded when the Bears’ Benji Ly’s hit didn’t find the mark.
The middle game saw it evened at 3-3 on a kill from Ly and it was tied at 6-6 when Tafoya’s hit went out of bounds.
The Golden Knights then went on a 7-4 run as Rodz made it 13-10 with a kill.
St. Francis danced in front 16-10 after a block from Clapp as the Bears requested a stoppage in time.
The Golden Knights pulled ahead 18-11 on a kill from Clapp and but the Bears fought back to make it 18-14 on a service ace from Charlie Gerard.
It became 21-15 on a kill from Clapp and 24-15 on Welsh’s winner and the Golden Knights took the second set on a kill from Brown.