By Dick Dornan
BurbankNBeyond Sports Editor
Burbank High won its first girls volleyball league title in 37 years with a 3-0 sweep of cross-town rival Burroughs Tuesday night at Burbank. Behind a spirited crowd, the Bulldogs played perhaps their most complete match of the year winning in three sets 25-21, 25-19, and 25-20.
It was a special moment for Burbank Coach Sarah Brown as she witnessed her program capture an elusive title that Burbank had been chasing since 1975. The Bulldogs will share the league title with Arcadia after having split the season series.
“This is the first time I feel like that we have achieved something. These girls knew from the beginning what they wanted to do,” Brown said. “As a group they are probably the most competitive girls and I think that makes a difference. They are competitors who want to win. They pushed themselves to earn the league to win and not rely on the other teams to lose.”
Burroughs (10-6, 10-4) entered the match knowing they could play the role of spoilers and deflate the Bulldogs dreams. Despite a well-played contest by the Indians, this night belonged to Burbank (15-1, 13-1).
“I thought it was a great match. Both teams played really good,” said Brown, who is in her sixth season as head coach at BHS. “That was the best that we have played in a really long time. I felt like we won the game. I don’t feel like Burroughs lost because they played a great game as well.”
Trailing 12-7 in the first set, the Bulldogs went on a 6-1 run to tie it at 13 apiece followed by a 5-0 run that broke a 16-16 tie. Burbank’s Jamie Gonzalez had an ace and an Indians hitting error gave the Bulldogs a 21-16 advantage.
Gonzalez and Sharon Youn combined on a block for set point to give BHS the first set, 25-21.
“My heart was beating the whole time,” Youn said. “Coach Brown was pushing us saying, ‘You guys can do it. You’ve worked hard for this whole year.’ It feels really good being able to win.”
A few weeks back, Burbank lost the opening set to Burroughs only to win three straight. This time the Bulldogs didn’t waste any time with a league championship in mind.
Tied at 14 in the second set, Burbank erupted for a 9-2 run to take a commanding 23-16 lead culminated by a block from Rachael Woods and Stephanie Eskander. The seven-point cushion would be the largest lead by either team in the match.
Woods, who had five kills in the match, teamed up with Youn to block a Burroughs shot for set point and give the Bulldogs a 25-19 win and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five match.
The teams traded point for point in the third set until Burbank gave itself some breathing room when Katie Hooper hit a soft drop shot to give BHS an 18-14 lead. Denise Daniel followed with an ace; the ball hitting the net and trickling over for a point to the delight of the Bulldog crowd. Things were clearly going Burbank’s way.
Burbank extended the lead to 20-14 only to see the valiant Indians fight back to cut the deficit to 21-18.
After a lengthy rally where each team produced great dig after great dig, Wood’s spectacular cross court shot made it 22-18 and brought the Bulldogs fans to their feet as they could sense victory and history in the making.
For each dig, set and spike by BHS, the Burbank faithful yelled “B-H-S” in rhythm. Excitement reached a fever pitch.
Hooper had an ace and Youn punctuated the match with a block to give Burbank the third set, 25-20, and a much-awaited league championship.
“This means everything. Working your hardest, having the best mentality, giving your all and having that heart,” Woods said.
“I just feel so accomplished. We worked so hard and we finally got it,” added Tyler Brooks, who had game highs of 19 assists and 15 digs. “It feels so good that I can’t even describe it. It’s wonderful.”
Daniel had eight kills on the evening with a hitting percentage of .412. Gonzalez contributed seven kills on an excellent hitting percentage of .467.
Hooper added 13 digs while Youn and Eskander had four blocks apiece.
Caitlin Cottrell had 11 kills for Burroughs while Laura Howard added eight kills for the Indians.
CIF playoffs begin next week. Burroughs will enter as the Pacific League’s No. 3 seed while Burbank will await a coin flip with Arcadia to determine the No. 1 entrant.
Burbank reached the second round a year ago and this year expects to go even farther.
“I think we can accomplish anything that we want to accomplish,” Brooks said. “Last year we went to the second round and this year I feel we can do even better. This is the greatest team I’ve ever been on.”
“As a program, we made a statement. Every year we have set the bar a little higher and tonight we did it again,” Brown said with a smile as wide as the 37 years in between league titles.