Despite the Pacific League banner already having been secured, the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team still wanted to play with tenacity and determination in Tuesday night’s match with rival Burbank, and it showed after sweeping, 25-18, 25-18, 25-8.
Though the Bulldogs lost both league meetings to the Indians, each team qualified for the upcoming CIF Southern Section playoffs.
After taking the first two sets, the host Indians trailed 2-1 in the third game, but then scored the next 12 points and led 13-2 when Burbank senior setter Jonathan Tapan’s attempt sailed out of bounds.
“It’s an avalanche,” Burroughs coach Joel Brinton said of the run. “They had to be praying for a service error.”
In quick order, the Indians (16-13 and 10-0 in league) waltzed ahead 18-3 on a tapper from junior middle blocker Cole Kaitz, who tossed in six kills.
From this point, Burroughs outscored Burbank, which finished in third place, 7-5, including two winners from senior middle blocker Jarrett Malone (seven kills with seven digs and four blocks) and the match-clincher on senior opposite hitter Kurt Miller’s dagger.
“I was really impressed with the third game,” Brinton said. “The guys stayed hungry during every point.”
Brinton went on: “Our goal was to be laser focused for the whole match,” he said. “That’s the best focus we’ve had in a match.”
The first set saw the Indians burst in front 5-1 on junior middle blocker William Singleton’s tip.
Burroughs then moved in front 9-4 when Burbank junior outside hitter Jonathan Ragheb’s shot missed the target.
Slowly but surely, the Indians led 14-9 on a kill from Kaitz, 17-10 on an ace from senior outside hitter Conner Ludlum (nine kills) and 18-10 on Ludlum’s tapper.
The Bulldogs (22-13 and 6-4 in league) were able to get within 21-14 on a service winner from Ragheb, but the Indians were still in control as they moved ahead 23-16 on Ludlum’s smash.
Burbank senior opposite hitter Adrian Rivera played with immense skill, passion and poise, but his effort simply wasn’t enough.
“The first two sets we couldn’t make our serves,” Rivera said. “We all tried really hard and we gave 100 percent on the court.”
Knowing that he’s one of the leaders, Rivera wanted to show the way.
“It starts with one person,” he said. “I give 130 percent on the court, but everyone gave everything they had.”
Rivera’s winners closed the gap to 6-3, 7-4, 13-9 and 18-11 in the first set and 18-4, 18-5 and 21-8 in the third set.
Burroughs took the opening frame by taking two of the last three points including a kill from Ludlum that made it 24-17 and senior libero Everett Kanoho’s bullet for the clincher.
Early in the second set it was a back-and-forth affair with Burbank taking a 6-4 lead on junior middle blocker Jonathan Valmonte’s kill.
The tide then shifted in favor of the Indians, who forged ahead 15-9 on Malone’s tapper.
The Bulldogs closed to within 18-13 on Ragheb’s smash, but the Indians righted the ship and moved in front 20-14 on a combined block from Singleton and Kaitz.
The Indians then took five of the next nine points including the game-winner on Malone’s service ace.
Burroughs junior outside hitter Diego Rosal finished with six kills and three aces while junior setter Jose Levi Benitez contributed 25 assists.