By Rick Assad
History was made Monday night when the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team played rival Burbank a third time during the regular season.
Like the two previous matches, the Bears swept the Bulldogs, this time 25-8, 25-13, 25-18 in the Pacific League encounter and are still undefeated in league.
This unique occurrence was made possible because of the newly formulated competitive equity proposal in which after the first round, the top four teams play each other while the bottom four play each other, which hopefully make the outcomes more equitable.
The visiting Bears (15-4 and 11-0 in league) scooted off to a fast start in the first set and then cruised into high gear.
“It’s always hard to beat anyone three times. You get some extra preparation for it and you get time to watch video and film, but we’re on a mission and that’s to win the league and try to go undefeated,” Burroughs coach Edwin Real said of his team that now owns an 11-match winning streak.
Real knows his team is deep and talented.
“We serve well. We play defense well and Charlotte [Hobson] controls the back row,” he said. “And we have more than one weapon.”
Burroughs’ stars shined and they included senior setter Meghan Lynch, senior outside hitter Heidi Collins and senior libero Hobson.
“As a team we try our best to win the first point and get some momentum in the very beginning of each set,” explained Hobson, who tossed in 11 digs. “When we play as a team, especially our cross-town rival, momentum and energy plays a huge part. The stands are always full and can get rowdy. So we work to come out strong and try to never take our foot off the gas.”
Hobson added: “I think we played as a team. All of us were 100 percent in it and ready to sacrifice ourselves for each other,” she said. “This team has been one of the closest teams I have been on, so getting to play my last Burbank versus Burroughs game with them was awesome. Just the feeling you get while playing your rival school is super exciting and fun to play as a team. And it always feels good getting a victory against them.”
Junior opposite hitter Kara Aldana-Pere and senior middle blocker Bella Lomet also played well for the Bears.
On the opposite side of the net, Gabby Damroze, Madison Clevenger and Madison Gomez stood out for the Bulldogs (9-11 and 3-6 in league).
“I like it [playing three games against Burroughs]. I think it works really well for us. I think we were just overwhelmed with senior night and all the people in the stands,” Damroze said of the brand new setup. “I think overall we did pretty good. We need to work on a few things.”
Damroze gave specifics. “I think we need to work on more communication and not getting in our head and supporting each other and hype each other up and having more energy,” she noted.
After capturing the initial and middle set, the Bears bolted out to a 5-1 lead in the third game on a spike from sophomore outside hitter Tawnie Ohrt, who had five kills and five digs.
Burroughs then dashed in front 9-6 on a spike from senior outside hitter Britney Mejia.
The Bulldogs evened it at 9-9 on a service winner from Clevenger, but the Bears seized command 13-9 on Lomet’s ace.
It became 15-11 on a blast from Collins and 21-16 on a push from Hobson. A bullet from Collins made it 24-18 and Lynch’s ace sealed the set and match.
The first game saw the visitors race to an 11-0 cushion with kills from Collins that made it 2-0 and 3-0.
Aldana-Pere (three kills) extended the margin to 5-0 on a smash as Burbank asked for time out.
“I’m really happy about how we played today. Getting the lead so early on in the first set really boosted our confidence as a team and allowed us to just focus on putting the ball away,” said Collins, who collected a match-best nine kills. “Overall, I feel as though we really showed Burbank how we can play. I think our defense definitely stood out today along with our offense. Offensively, I think we made smart plays like tipping into the middle of the court or hitting deep into corners which allowed us to keep going on long serving runs.”
Collins liked the chance of meeting the Bulldogs three times. “Playing Burbank is always a game we look forward to, not only because they’re our rivals, but also because of the crowd,” she said. “So having the opportunity to play them three times instead of two was a super-fun change.”
Service winners from Lynch extended the lead to 8-0 and 11-0 as the Bulldogs again requested a stoppage in time.
“I was beyond excited to beat our rival school 25-8 [in the first set] at their home court. I was super proud of everyone,” said Lynch, who chipped in with 23 assists and six digs. “It’s always fun to play your cross-town rival, but I’m not sure how to feel about how the league is set up this year. I think playing the top three teams is beneficial going into the CIF [Southern Section], but it takes the fun out of playing the top teams because it gets a little repetitive.”
The goal is to capture the league banner and Lynch thinks it’s possible.
“We went into the game wanting to win for each other, and that’s why I think we played so well,” she said. ‘We all played selflessly and left everything out there. Before we started the game I told my team, ‘it’s our last time playing Burbank as a team, so let’s leave with no regrets.’ I believe we left with no regrets and it’s the best feeling beating your rival 3-0 for the very last time.”
Burbank stopped the scoring spree at 11-1 on a kill from Alaina Melgar, but the Bears took command 15-1 on consecutive aces from senior defensive specialist Kylie Colton.
Burroughs’ advantage swelled to 21-7 on a winner from Lomet (six kills) and back-to-back aces from senior setter Penelope White made it 24-8.
When Clevenger’s blast found the net, the Bears forged ahead one set to none.
The middle game began with Burbank taking a 3-1 lead on a block from Arpi Hakoop, but in short order Burroughs bolted ahead 8-6 on a push from Lynch and Lynch’s ace made it 9-6.
“The struggle of playing consistently against Burroughs is that they are probably the most consistent team in our league,” Burbank coach Patrick Tyler said. “The game is a game of runs. Our struggle is serve-receive. Passing and serving are going to be our bread and butter.”
A 13-2 run followed as the Bears dashed ahead 22-8 with Aldana-Pere adding kills that made it 12-6 and 19-8 while Colton’s service aces pushed the Bears in front 14-8 and 21-8.
It became 23-12 on Lomet’s kill and the set was won on Clevenger’s smash into the net.
Junior outside hitter Janessa Wareebor contributed six digs and four kills for the Bears.