By Rick Assad
It seemed that whenever the Burbank High girls’ volleyball team needed a point or a key play, Melissa Daniel was ready to deliver.
In the fifth and deciding game in Thursday’s Pacific League match, Daniel had six kills and a combined stuff as the host Bulldogs took down Crescenta Valley, 25-22, 27-25, 20-25, 22-25, 15-7.
Daniel scored the first two points on kills before sophomore outside hitter Katie Treadway (six aces and three kills) tossed in an ace that made it 3-0.
Daniel’s spike pushed the lead to 4-0, while senior middle blocker/opposite hitter Erin Lashkari’s stuff extended it to 5-0.
“Yeah, that’s so important, getting off strong because CV is a strong team, too,” said Daniel, a senior outside hitter who contributed a match-best 20 kills and 22 digs. “But we need to establish that lead to make sure that we could take this game.”
Lashkari and Daniel then teamed up on a jam as the advantage swelled to 6-0.
The Falcons (1-7 and 0-3 in league) scored a point on a net violation, but Daniel added a kill and senior opposite/outside hitter Arpi Garibyan (three kills) tossed in a stuff that made it 8-1 as Crescenta Valley asked for time.
“We’re definitely coming on stronger this year,” Daniel said. “We want to make a better showing than last year which wasn’t our best effort. This team this year is super close and it’s helping with our connection and I think we’re working great together.”
Daniel’s spike made it 10-1 and her smash supplied the Bulldogs with a 12-6 lead.
Eventually Burbank (4-0 and 3-0 in league) would take the match after winning three of the next four points including Treadway’s dagger that made it 14-7 and senior defensive specialist/libero Katie Marcy’s service ace for the clincher.
When asked if it was intentional that she had the ball set in the fifth set, Daniel said that it wasn’t.
“It just happened to turn out that way,” she said. “I definitely didn’t play my best the first couple of sets. But I definitely came out with more stronger energy and the whole team had a lot more energy in that fifth set because we want to win.”
Burbank Coach Karl Rojo also felt confident in the fifth set. “With that experience she’s (Daniel) going to put that ball away for us,” he said. “We just had to feed the hot hand. We practice these games where you gotta feed the hot hand and the hot hand’s gotta figure it out. She contributed a lot today.”
The opening game was tied 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-5, 6-6, 9-9, 10-10 and 11-11, but the Bulldogs took over 16-14 on an ace from senior opposite hitter Suzy Torosyan (six kills and 13 digs) and 20-16 on Treadway’s bullet.
When Lashkari had a tap-stuff, Burbank led 21-19, but the Falcons tied it at 21-21 on an ace from senior outside/opposite hitter Marley Gang.
A kill from Daniel gave the Bulldogs a 22-21 edge, and the Bulldogs would take three of the next four points for the set.
Burbank led 4-1 in the second game on Garibyan’s stuff and 12-5 on Torosyan’s winner.
A kill from Daniel gave the Bulldogs a 16-10 edge and it would be even at 20-20 on a stuff from Treadway.
Crescenta Valley tied it at 24-24 on junior opposite hitter/middle blocker Grace Holland’s kill, only to see Lashkari’s spike make it 25-24 and Daniel’s kill push it to 26-25.
Burbank moved in front 3-0 in the third set on Treadway’s ace, and it would be tied 14-14 on Treadway’s tapper.
The Bulldogs darted in front 17-14 on Marcy’s ace as Crescenta Valley asked for time and then outscored Burbank 11-3 for the set.
It was tied eight times in the early going in the fourth set before the Bulldogs led 12-10 on an ace from sophomore setter Ashley Eskander (25 assists).
The Falcons forged a 20-16 advantage on Gang’s blast as the Bulldogs needed a time out.
Burbank came within 23-20 on Treadway’s service ace as the Falcons asked for time, but when Lashkari’s serve sailed out of bounds, the fifth set became necessary.