GLENDALE — The Crescenta Valley High girls’ volleyball team won the first game of its Pacific League match against Hoover in just 15 minutes, as it took 11 of the final 13 points.
The rest of the games wouldn’t be as easy for the Falcons.
“We came out with the focus,” Falcons Coach Jen Ku Lee said. “Then we got big-headed. We could never keep our focus. When you get teams down, you have to take advantage of it.”
Crescenta Valley (4-1 in league) might have underestimated the Tornadoes, Falcons captain Cassidy Iannello said.
“We definitely shouldn’t have underestimated them the way we did,” said Iannello, who led her team with a match-high 11 kills and eight assists. “They have definitely improved from last year.”
Hoover (1-4 in league) showed its improvements in the final three games.
It played tougher defense and got timely kills from seniors Lilit Chaparyan (team-high 10 kills), Vanasis Ohanian (eight kills and four aces) and Nicole Mirzakhanian (six kills and two aces).
“In the first and second game, we had not fixed our bad habits,” Ohanian said. “In the third game, we realized that if we didn’t win, it was over. We came out much stronger and more aggressive.
“We know our capabilities. We put our capabilities into action.”
The Falcons — playing without standout junior Emmie Walker, who sat out with a bruised right knee — took advantage of the Tornadoes’ bad habits in the first game. With a 15-9 lead, the Falcons scored eight consecutive points to build a comfortable cushion.
Hoover – which didn’t score three consecutive points in the first game – had its own rallies in the second game.
The Tornadoes built a 20-17 lead, as Ohanian and Chaparyan combined for seven of those points with five kills and two aces. But the Falcons had more depth and scored four consecutive points to take the lead and eight of the final nine of the game.
Marina Torres led the Falcons with 16 assists and teammates Sabrina Shahbandeh and Katie Sandoval each had seven kills. Rosa Kwak added four aces and Jane Moon and Aryn Alanizi each had two.
“It all started with our passing,” Lee said. “When it’s on, our team is pretty good. It was on and off today.”
The passing was off in the third game, as the Tornadoes avoided the sweep by never trailing in the game.
With their junior varsity and soph-frosh teammates supporting them from the bleachers, the Tornadoes seemed to have the momentum to force a fifth game.
The fourth game featured 12 ties and seven lead changes, the last of which occurred when Shahbandeh blocked a Tornado kill attempt to give her team a 21-20 lead. Hoover had a 20-19 lead, but the Falcons scored the final six points of the game.
“I’m very proud of them,” Hoover Coach Gabby Gallardo said. “It’s been a struggle, but they’re starting to see the potential they have as a team when they play together.”