By Rick Assad
With nearly two sets completed, the Burroughs High girls’ volleyball team had its back against the wall against longtime rival Burbank.
The Bulldogs were ahead 24-21 in the second set and one more point would give the visitors a two games to none lead in this Pacific League match.
Quicker than a blink of an eye, the Indians rallied and tallied five straight points and evened it at one set each and then took the next two games for a 15-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-10 triumph on Thursday night and capped the league undefeated.
Two days earlier, Burroughs claimed their third consecutive league banner and now await this weekend’s pairings and seedings from the CIF Southern Section.
“We don’t give up, that’s for sure,” longtime Burroughs coach Edwin Real said. “We’ve come back against teams this year, so we’ve been there. We weren’t panicked.”
What did Real tell the team after losing the first set? “I told them we’re going to be just fine. Just stay calm and composed,” he said.
Burroughs (18-5 and 14-0 in league) sprinted to a 5-3 lead on a kill from senior middle blocker Camila Sanchez-Tellez.
“It feels great. It was on our whiteboard. We could have very easily said we won the league at 13-1, but the girls wanted to go undefeated,” Real said of Thursday’s motivation.
Burbank (13-16 and 8-6 for fourth place in league) evened it at 7-7 on a service ace from senior setter Ashley Eskander.
“I think we just got a little bit in our heads,” said Eskander, who finished with 27 assists, nine digs, seven kills and five aces. “I think the crowd kind of just got to us and we made silly mistakes, and they came out strong and they just pushed us.”
Eskander continued: “I think we came out stronger than we ever did before,” she noted. “And that worked to our advantage. I definitely think we’re in the underdog situation and we have that nothing to lose mentality. We fought and we played our game.”
A push from senior outside hitter Lydia Grote, who had a match-best 23 kills with two blocks, gave the Indians, who have defeated the Bulldogs 10 straight matches, an 11-8 lead.
A kill from sophomore defensive specialist Charlotte Hobson (nine digs and two aces) made it 15-13, but Burbank evened it at 17-17 on a spike from junior opposite hitter Tamryn Betts.
“I thought we were passing pretty well. I thought our swings were in all rhythm and moving the ball around,” Burbank coach Karl Rojo said. “Everything was flowing well as a team in that first set. It was a little heartbreaking losing that second set, but I thought we rolled over any mistakes that we made in the third set.”
The Bulldogs then outscored the Indians 4-1, that included an ace from senior outside hitter Katie Treadway.
“When I see everyone giving 100 percent effort, even of we make little mistakes, honestly, it’s fulfilling and I feel proud of my team and it feels good,” said Treadway, who ended the match with 13 digs, six kills and three aces. “Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone on the same page and get the same energy. But we try our best to keep everyone engaged, to keep everyone in the game, but sometimes it gets a little messy.”
Treadway’s bullet made it 24-21, but Burroughs went on a 5-0 blitz with junior outside hitter Catie Virtue (eight kills) collecting three spikes while sophomore middle blocker Bella Lomet added a kill and a block that sealed the set.
The first set was tied 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, but the Bulldogs marched in front 9-5 on Treadway’s kill.
Another laser from Treadway pushed the lead to 14-6 and a blast from junior middle blocker Bianca Hudson (five kills) made it 16-8.
Senior middle blocker Leah Tawil (six kills with two blocks) added a dagger as the Bulldogs led 18-10 and it became 22-13 on a push from Eskander.
Treadway’s bullet made it 23-15 and when Grote’s ball sailed out of bounds, Burbank led 24-15. Grote’s swing then hit the net for the final point.
Like the initial frame, the third set was tight early with the score being knotted 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 before the Indians seized control 7-5 on a stuff from junior outside hitter Camila Palma.
A tapper from Virtue made it 10-7 as the Bulldogs needed time out. Virtue’s back-to-back kills made it 12-9.
Grote’s tapper pushed the margin to 15-12 and four kills and a block by Grote made it 22-13. Grote’s kill gave the Indians a 24-14 lead and an errant serve secured the set.
The fourth set was runaway from the outset as the Indians led 8-1 on Grote’s stuff. A kill from sophomore setter Meagan Lynch made it 11-2.
Virtue’s spike saw the Indians dart ahead 16-4 and Palma’s winner made it 18-4 as the Bulldogs needed time.
Palma’s kill extended Burroughs’ lead to 19-7 and Grote’s kill made it 21-8. Another kill from Grote gave the Indians a 23-9 edge and a kill from senior opposite hitter Joelle Burras delivered Burroughs the set and match with an ace.
Senior libero/defensive specialist Morgan Bolger contributed 11 digs for the Bulldogs.