LA CRESCENTA — The Crescenta Valley High and Burbank boys' volleyball teams expelled a great deal of energy in the first game of their match Friday.
The teams opened the contest with an epic stanza, rife with thrilling moments and changes of momentum. In the first game, the Bulldogs had game-point seven times and the Falcons were one point away from winning five times. In all, 70 points were scored.
Burbank was able to survive to win the first game and was able to ride that momentum to a 36-34, 25-22, 28-26 win in the Pacific League opener at Crescenta Valley.
The Bulldogs (1-3) came into the contest winless on the season. However, all three of the team's losses came in five-game matches by a total of 11 points.
Burbank Coach Patrick McMenamin said the valuable experience his team was able to take away from those losses helped the Bulldogs eventually pull out the win in the first game.
"Our mental toughness was tested for sure in those first three [matches]," McMenamin said. "Our boys are maturing and learning to play as a team for the duration of the match, not just in the earlier stages. That is the deepest score that we've ever had in this program and it was exciting to win that first game."
Burbank was one point away from the win against Crescenta Valley (2-3) in the first game when the visitors took a 24-23 lead on a kill from John You. However, a Bulldogs service error gave the Falcons new life. That would be the first of 12 game-point situations for the two teams.
The Falcons were on the verge of a win in the first game when they took a 31-30 advantage thanks to a kill by Henry Sim. However, Crescenta Valley was called for a double and the Bulldogs were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The Bulldogs had three more opportunities to close out the first game, but on every occasion the Falcons staved off the threat. Finally, after the Falcons knotted the score at 34 on a Burbank service error — one of 10 in the game — the Bulldogs went ahead, 35-34, on a Crescenta Valley service error and closed out the marathon on a Falcons hitting error.
"They tried to give us the win in that first game and we just kept giving it back to them," Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson said. "Eventually, it was a matter of who was not going to make mistakes at crucial times. It was really fun in that first game and it was really exciting. We lost it, but we were right there the whole way."
Burbank received nine kills and four blocks from You. Teammate Joshua Wright added seven kills, Derian Blandon had 11 digs and Ryan Garcia contributed 25 assists.
In the second game, Burbank came back and took a 6-5 lead. The Bulldogs were able to increase their advantage to six, 20-14, on a Crescenta Valley hitting error. The Falcons were able to trim the lead to two, 24-22. However, the Bulldogs pulled out the win when Justin Saisirikul delivered a kill.
"We knew this was going to be a good CV team, a team that made the playoffs last season," You said. "So we practiced extra hard for them. We were expecting a tough fight."
The Falcons received 10 kills from Alex Shin.
It was another tight battle in the third game. There were six lead chances before Crescenta Valley received a kill from Noah Klotther to go in front, 26-25. But the Bulldogs wouldn't go quietly, as they got a kill from Mario Hernandez and took advantage of a Falcons hitting error to force game-point, 27-26. A kill from Wright secured the win.
In just its second season after reviving the program two years ago, McMenamin said the win was a testament to the progression of Burbank boys' volleyball.
"This is definitely a step in the right direction," he said. "We want to be competitive in the Pacific League. By no means have we arrived, but we are getting there."