By Rick Assad
It’s nearly impossible to play a perfect match, but host Burroughs High came really close in its sweep of rival Burbank in a Pacific League clash on Friday.
After a tight opening game, the other two sets were somewhat less of a struggle as the Bears earned a 25-19, 25-13, 25-9 victory.
The offense begins and ends with senior setter Meghan Lynch, who is keenly adept at finding the point-producers like senior outside hitter Heidi Collins, sophomore outside hitter Tawnie Ohrt and senior middle blocker Bella Lomet.
“Something we really have been focusing on this season is playing as a team,” said Lynch, who will be playing for Fresno State next season. “I thought we all played together really well and brushed off our mistakes fast.”
Lynch sets the table for the others with uncanny precision. “I have trust in all my hitters and they have trust in me which makes a great connection on the court,” she said. “Especially senior middle blocker Bella Lomet. Even when the pass is off I know I can rely on her to put the ball away in any situation.”
The first game was knotted six times and as deep into the set as 13-13 when Burbank’s Madison Clevenger delivered a service winner.
In time, the Bears (10-4 and 6-0 in league) would go on an 9-0 spurt and lead 22-13 as junior opposite hitter Kara Aldana-Pere added a kill.
The Bulldogs showed fight and came within 23-18 on an ace from Madison Gomez.
When Gomez’s service sailed out of bounds it became 24-18 and after Burbank (5-5 and 2-3 in league) earned a point on Janessa Wareebor’s service error.
Burroughs claimed the initial set on a hitting mistake by Alyssa Posones.
“I think our first set showed that we could compete, but we lack the consistency in serve receive needed,” Burbank coach Patrick Tyler said. “I think the first set might’ve put us in a better position to take some risks and swings on other balls later in the game.”
In short order, the Bears dashed ahead two sets to none after bolting to a 6-0 advantage behind kills from Collins that made it 1-0 and Collins that pushed the margin to 6-0 as the Bulldogs asked for time.
In between, Lynch collected three aces as the Bears led 2-0, 4-0 and 5-0.
Burroughs added four more points and extended its cushion to 10-3 with the Bulldogs serving errors on three occasions.
Burbank rallied and drew within 12-9 on a service ace from Isabella Mashour.
The Bears would then outscore the visitors 5-1 and lead 17-10 as Lomet joined the action with an ace.
A service ace from Lynch made it 19-12 and Lynch followed up with yet another service winner for a 20-12 margin.
Burbank sliced the deficit to 20-13 on a kill from Clevenger, but Collins tossed in a spike that made it 21-13 and added an incredible four consecutives service aces that included the game-winner.
In the middle set the Bulldogs led 2-0 on a spike from Gabby Damroze and pulled ahead 4-1 after another winner from Damroze.
The Bears rallied and outscored the Bulldogs 4-1 and evened it at 5-5 on a kill from Lomet.
A tapper from Collins pushed the advantage to 8-6 and a service ace from Lomet made it 10-6.
Back-to-back aces from Lynch catapulted the Bears in front 13-8 as the Bulldogs requested time out. Four straight service winners by Lynch saw Burroughs forge ahead 18-8.
“Serving is something we really focus on at practice. Coach [Edwin] Real always says if we serve aggressively we are going to win,” Lynch said. “Our team always tries to implement what we do in practice in our games and I think we did that really well tonight. I think it’s very easy to get frazzled when playing our rival, but we all stayed calm and played with confidence.”
Wareebor’s tapper made it 19-8 as the Bulldogs requested a time out.
Senior setter Penelope White’s ace saw Burroughs stretch its lead to 21-8 and a block from Aldana-Pere made it 22-8.
A spike from senior outside hitter Britney Mejia stretched the cushion to 24-9 and the set was secured on a hitting error by Jazmine Cobb.
Tyler tipped his cap to the Bears. “Burroughs is a strong team and Meghan Lynch ran a great offense,” he said. “It’s tough when you are playing against someone of her caliber. Heidi Collins did a lot of work against us.”