By Rick Assad
At this point in the season, it’s clear that the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team is capable of something truly special.
Playing on the road and in search of another Pacific League win on Thursday night, the Bears wanted to take another step in the right direction, and all of these little steps could lead to a CIF Southern Section title.
That’s still in the future, but right now they pushed aside longtime rival Burbank 25-10, 25-8, 25-22.
The usual suspects were at the forefront, and they included Justin Burras, Vinny Harris and Pucky Lawrence.
“The first two sets I liked that we were trying to work on some things and the guys did a good job of working on them,” longtime Burroughs coach Joel Brinton said. “We did have some errors but sometimes that happens when you’re trying to implement new things into what we do.”
These three didn’t play in the third set and the Bulldogs took advantage of this as they came out and led 5-2 on a service ace from junior middle blocker Austin Kim.
The lead didn’t last too long as the Bears’ Charlie Gerard’s service winner tied it at 6-6.
A kill from Andy Zeytounian made it 7-6 in favor of Burroughs (10-3 and 3-0 in league).
It became 14-7 as Henry Carlin chipped in with three aces that made it 11-7, 12-7 and 14-7.
An ace from Benji Ly extended the Bears’ margin to 16-8, but the Bulldogs closed to 20-15 on a kill and a block from Kim and it became 20-16 on an ace from junior outside hitter Noah Lintag.
Burroughs, which extended its winning streak to six matches, came within two points of the set and the match at 23-17 on a winner from Ly.
A kill from Kyle Truett made it 24-21 and Ly’s dagger ended the game and the match.
“For the third set it is important for us to get those guys playing time because they don’t always get in there and they work their tails off in practice,” Brinton said of his deep bench. “It was nice to see them get close and for them to figure out a way to execute because that group needs those opportunities.”
The initial game saw the Bears race out to a 3-0 lead on a kill from Lawrence and back-to-back service winners by Burras that made it 8-4 and 9-4.
A spike from Harris pushed the Burroughs’ edge to 11-5 and a blast from Lawrence made it 13-6.
Three consecutive aces by Chris Johnson saw Burroughs pull ahead 16-7, 17-7 and 18-7 and two kills from Burras made it 19-7 and 20-7 while Johnson’s ace catapulted the Bears in front 21-7.
A rocket from Harris handed the Bears a 23-9 cushion and the lead became 24-9 on a Burras spike.
The game went into the Bears’ ledger after the Bulldogs made two unforced errors.
“I’m very proud of the kids. We came into this season starting with only a little bit of time coaching together,” first-year Burbank coach James Cowart said. “Win or lose, I want to see them work together because we have a lot of opportunities. We’re going to work together starting this summer.”
Burroughs didn’t call a timeout in the first two sets, but did in the third, which pleased Cowart.
“We could have had it off of the third set. In the third set, we were taking momentum back. He had to finally respect me as a coach,” Cowart said of the stoppage in play.
After capturing the first set, Burroughs wasn’t fooling around and didn’t want to give Burbank (1-6 and 1-2 in league) any hope as it bounced to a 6-0 lead primarily on the back of Harris, who had four service aces while Lawrence added a kill that made it 3-0.
Johnson contributed a blast that made it 7-1 and added a service winner for an 8-1 edge.
A bullet from Burras made it 9-2 and the Bears then went on a 6-1 burst and forged ahead 15-3 on an ace from Christian Solano.
Mark Hopkins chipped in with two kills for Burroughs that made it 10-3 and 12-3 and Solano added a pair of aces for a 13-3 lead and a 15-3 advantage.
Consecutive aces from Carlin made it 19-6 and 20-6 and another service winner from Carlin shoved Burroughs in front 22-6.
A kill from Johnson saw the Bears lead 23-7 and an ace from Ly put Burroughs in front 24-7. Johnson’s kill made it 25-8 as the middle set was clinched.