By Rick Assad
Remaining focused from start to finish is something that seems easy, but in fact isn’t.
On most occasions, the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team has it and on Monday night, the Bears had it which helped suppress visiting Burbank 25-15, 25-23, 25-12 in a Pacific League match.
This was the second time these two faced each other in the brand new league format.
The team’s engine belongs to senior setter Meghan Lynch and the key offensive threats are senior outside hitter Heidi Collins, junior outside hitter Janessa Wareebor, who contributed five digs, and sophomore outside hitter Tawnie Ohrt, who had seven kills.
“Before every game Coach [Edwin] Real gives us three goals to try and achieve during the game,” said Lynch, who finished with 30 assists and eight digs. “It puts us all in the right mindset.
Lynch added: “I’m really proud of my team because something we struggled with in the beginning of the season was staying focused on achieving our goals,” she said. “I believe that now we all have one common goal and we are all focused and well prepared for every game.”
Leading Burroughs’ defense is senior libero Charlotte Hobson and senior middle blocker Bella Lomet, who tossed in six kills.
“I think we try our best to maintain an intense but calm atmosphere on the court. Sometimes that does dip down, but we are always 100 percent supportive of each other,” said Hobson, who added five digs and is one of the floor leaders. “As a team, we capitalized on serving, which is one of our strongest assets. Coach Real tells us our zones and we hit them.”
Hobson continued: “We can easily get any team out of their system with our serving,” she added. “During practice, we have been focusing on defense and I think we weren’t letting very many balls go down without effort. My main job is to take control of the back row and as a four-year varsity player I know how Coach Real wants it. I work hard to be a consistent player and to get my passes to our senior setter, Meghan Lynch, so she can run the offense.”
When they’re in sync, it’s like a locomotive racing down the track on its way to the next stop.
“Our team is determined to win. We play composed even when our opponent is having an edge on us,” Burroughs coach Edwin Real said. “Burbank played well, made good adjustments since our first meeting.”
Keeping on the rail became vital in the second set as it was knotted nine times including 17-17.
Being focused and prepared for what the Bulldogs (10-9 and 3-4 in league) would dish out helped the Bears (12-4 and 8-0 in league) pull it out late with a 8-6 run.
“In the second set, we pulled off going back to just being consistent,” Real explained. “Not trying to do too much and keeping things simple.”
The middle game began with Burroughs, which owns an eight-game winning streak, powering ahead 5-1 on a tapper from Ohrt as the Bulldogs asked for time out.
Burbank muscled through and tied it at 8-8 on a kill from Madison Clevenger. The Bears then leveled it at 12-12 on a spike from Collins.
“I definitely feel as though Meghan and I connect really well when running a fast play on the outside,” said Collins, who chipped in with seven kills. “She almost always puts the ball in the perfect spot and when it’s off, we just communicate to each other on how to make the play better.”
Collins liked the way the team performed against its longtime rival, and especially in the tough middle set.
“Today as a team, I thought we did really well on putting the ball away and adjusting to broken plays from the other side,” she said. “I also think that overall our team had a really strong mindset. We didn’t dwell on our mistakes and would fix them right away, executing the next play.”
The Bulldogs pushed ahead 14-13 on Tara Rauenswinder’s kill.
The Bears forged in front 16-15 on a Hobson’s service ace. Wareebor’s service winner made it 20-17 as the Bulldogs requested a stoppage in time.
Lomet’s kill gave the Bears a 22-19 lead and a Collins spike pushed the lead to 23-21.
When Burbank’s Makayla Kim’s serve dribbled out of bounds, Burroughs pulled ahead two games to none.
Patrick Tyler, the Burbank coach, wanted to see his team play the rest of the match the way the second was contested.
“I’m incredibly proud of how we played in the second set, but we made too many unforced errors and took the game out of our own hands,” he said. “We’re a young, inexperienced group that is rapidly improving, but the level of play in our league is incredibly tough. Normally we would have only two matches a year with the top teams in our league, but now we have three with our tier system. It’s important to stay at the top of our game.”
The third set opened with the Bulldogs charging in front 5-1 on a push from Gabby Damroze.
Clevenger’s kill made it 6-4, but Burroughs woke up and responded, jumping ahead 8-7 on Wareebor’s service ace.
Ohrt’s spike made it 9-7 and Wareebor’s ace pushed the lead to 10-7, as once again the Bulldogs asked for a break in the action.
Burroughs continued to surge as it led 16-8 on two straight service aces from Ohrt.
The barrage wasn’t over as Lomet’s dagger made it 17-10 and Lomet’s service ace pushed the cushion to 18-10.
A Collins spike extended the advantage to 19-11 and the Bears then outscored the Bulldogs 6-1 for the set that included several mishits by the visitors.
In the opening game, Burroughs bolted to a 6-4 advantage on a winner from Collins and 11-8 on Lynch’s ace.
“I played well, but there are always things to improve on,” Lynch said. “And it was fun playing with a big crowd.”
The Bears grabbed a 14-10 edge on a kill from Collins and an ace from Collins extended the margin to 15-10.
Lynch’s push saw the advantage swell to 17-12 and Lomet’s bullet made it 18-12 as the Bulldogs needed a time out.
Burroughs’ lead became 21-14 when Clevenger’s swing hit the net and another break in the action was requested by Burbank.
Lomet scored a point to make it 22-15 and back-to-back service winners from senior defensive specialist Kylie Colton, who had six digs, saw the Bears dash ahead 24-15. The set winner was a kill from Collins.