By Rick Assad
Having played nearly two dozen boys’ volleyball matches this season, it’s really hard to choose one in which Burroughs High played its best.
If one match is better than Tuesday night’s Pacific League 25-20, 25-21, 22-25, 25-16 thumping of visiting Arcadia, it’s going to need more intensity, drama and determination, because they were all on display.
There were too many stars to choose from, but at the top of the list is Henry Carlin, who had 12 kills and Mark Hopkins, who added 10 spikes and three aces.
Caiden Shrode was the quarterback, setting up his big weapons to the tune of 24 assists. Shrode also chipped in with two aces.
When defensive intensity was asked for, Charlie Gerard provided it with 17 digs, but really it was a team effort.
“Yes, this is the best we’ve played. Nice to see us pick it up and apply what we’ve been doing in practice,” longtime Burroughs coach Joel Brinton said. “It’s a step in the right direction for closing out the league and CIF Southern Section playoffs.”
The game clincher saw the fourth set tied at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 before the Bears (12-10 and 7-2 for second place in the league) seized command 8-3 on a hit from Gavin Arnold which prompted the Apaches (18-4 and 6-3 in league for third place) to ask for a stoppage in time.
When Shrode served up back-to-back service aces, Burroughs led 13-2 and 13-3 and once again Arcadia requested time.
Carlin’s spike made it 15-6 and Andy Zeytounian’s winner pushed the Bears’ margin to 19-8.
“We had a lot of guys play well. Nice to see us play unselfishly. Guys are sacrificing for the betterment of the team,” Brinton said. “Nice to see us generate some tough serving and putting balls away when given the opportunity.”
Benji Ly’s block made it 21-10 and Ly’s winner gave the Bears a 22-13 advantage.
When Hopkins added a kill, it put Burroughs in front 24-14 and Carlin’s blast capped the night and the match.
From the outset, it was clear the Bears were determined and ready to explode after it was knotted at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3, as Burroughs pulled ahead 10-7 on a kill from Hopkins.
A service ace from Hopkins made it 13-8 and Carlin’s ace sent the Bears ahead 15-9 as Arcadia needed to take a time out.
The Apaches came within 16-14 on a winner from Maison Chang as the Bears asked for time out.
Arcadia took a brief lead 18-17 on a tapper from Isaiah McMahon but the Bears evened it at 18-18 on Owen Dixon’s winner.
Dixon’s ace gave the Bears a 20-18 cushion as Arcadia requested yet another stoppage in time.
Burroughs would claim five of the next seven points as Hopkins added a stuff to make it 21-19.
Carlin and Zeytounian co-blocked a shot for a 24-20 edge and the set was made official on a mishit from Jesse Lok.
In the second game, the Bears zoomed to a 6-0 lead on two kills from Carlin that made it 1-0 and 4-0 and a pair of aces from Hopkins that had Burroughs ahead 2-0 and 5-0.
It was even at 9-9 on Chang’s kill before a Hopkins push tied it at 12-12.
A winner from Zeytounian handed the Bears a 16-14 advantage before a tapper from Hopkins made it 22-18 as Arcadia asked for a time out.
Another softie from Hopkins extended the advantage to 23-21 and Dixon’s service ace made it two games to none for the Bears.
The only slip up for Burroughs came in the third game but the Bears led 4-1 on an ace from Christian Lim.
Burroughs took an 8-6 lead on a push from Zeytounian and it was knotted at 11-11 on Zeytounian’s kill.
Chang’s stuff made it 17-13 in favor of the Apaches and a kill from Kyle Soriano gave Arcadia the lead 20-15.
The points went back and forth but Arcadia forged ahead 21-19 on McMahon’s bullet.
The Apaches claimed four of the next seven points including the set winner.