By Rick Assad
It was merely the first set of a Pacific League girls’ volleyball match, and in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t seem it could or would determine the winner.
In all likelihood it did, especially after Burroughs High lost the second and fourth sets to visiting Crescenta Valley.
That initial game set the tone for a 25-21, 25-9, 20-25, 25-18 triumph by the Falcons over the Bears on Tuesday afternoon.
For nearly all of the first set, the Bears dominated the action as Burroughs led 4-0 on a kill from sophomore middle blocker Khloe Pavia which saw the Falcons call time out and then 5-1 on Pavia’s spike.
The Bears (6-6 and 1-2 in league) forged ahead 9-5 on senior middle blocker Sadie Lomet’s kill and then 11-5 on a Falcon hitting error as Crescenta Valley requested a stoppage in play.
A rocket by senior outside hitter Tawnie Ohrt made it 14-8 and matters seemed to be going swimmingly for the Bears.
Three consecutive aces from Crescenta Valley freshman outside hitter Adelyn Lopez made it 14-9, 14-10 and 14-11 as the Bears needed a rest.
Burroughs seemed to get back in the groove when Ohrt added a tapper that extended the cushion to 16-13, but the Falcons (11-2 and 3-0 in league) won four of the next five points and it was even at 17-17.
Crescenta Valley pulled ahead 18-17 on an ace from senior defensive specialist Natalie Avakian, but a kill from Burroughs sophomore outside hitter Sienna Lay tied it at 18-18.
A stuff from Lomet made it 19-18 and Ohrt’s winner gave the Bears a 20-19 lead.
Lopez’s blast evened it at 20-20 and a kill from senior opposite hitter Emma Santa Ana gave the Falcons a 21-20 edge as Burroughs asked for time.
Junior opposite hitter/setter Caden Pinto’s service ace made it 22-10 in favor of the Falcons, and they would add four more points including Lopez’s ace for the first set.
“We made many mistakes and missed services at critical times,” Burroughs coach Edwin Real said of his team.
Trailing two games to none, Burroughs came out in the third set and leveled it at 5-5 on a push from Lomet.
Crescenta Valley nabbed five of the nine points and led 10-9 a kill from junior middle blocker Eva Portnaya as the Bears needed to take a time out.
Ohrt’s winner made it 14-11 and Lay’s spike extended the advantage to 15-13.
An ace from the Falcons’ senior defensive specialist Sofia Santiago saw the score knotted at 17-17, but the Bears grabbed the next three points and led 20-17 as Lomet added two service winners that made it 19-17 and 20-17.
Sophomore setter Savana Lay’s ace made it 22-18 in favor of the Bears and back-to-back kills from Sienna Lay made it 24-20 and 25-20 as Burroughs trimmed the games advantage in half.
The second set was a lopsided affair with the Falcons taking a 4-2 lead on Portnaya’s push.
Consecutive service aces from Lopez made it 6-3 and 7-3 and then the Falcons charged in front 16-5 after winning nine of the next 11 points and included a push and a block from junior outside hitter/middle blocker Isabel Haytayan that made it 12-4 and 16-5.
Pinto’s push extended the cushion to 17-6 and several hitting errors by the Bears made it 21-8.
Pinto’s ace made it 22-8 and a service winner by Lopez secured the set to the Falcons which led two games to zero.
The match clincher was the fourth game as Crescenta Valley evened it at 5-5 on a kill from Portnaya.
A spike by Pinto made it 10-6 as the Bears needed to catch their breath and then the Falcons led 14-9 on a kill from Portnaya.
Pinto’s push gave the Falcons a 16-12 lead and it swelled to 17-12 on Avakian’s service ace.
Ohrt’s kill closed the gap to 17-13, but an ace from senior setter Jessica Romero made it 20-13 in favor of the Falcons.
Ohrt’s service winner trimmed the lead to 20-15, but the Falcons dominated the majority of the final action, taking five of the next eight points that included Santa Ana’s spike for the set and match.
Lomet delivered a block for the Bears that sliced the lead to 23-18.