ARCADIA — With a track record of league-title success over the past three decades, opponents can never count on the Arcadia High girls’ volleyball team to roll over.
Even when Burbank earned a historic sweep against the Apaches last month in the teams’ first meeting, the Bulldogs realized they would likely be in for a tough fight in the second matchup.
That matchup came Thursday, and Burbank had reason to be leery. The Bulldogs didn’t play well from the outset and the Apaches came out fired up and motivated on their home floor. The end result was an excruciating 25-23, 25-17, 25-17 Pacific League loss for Burbank.
The loss was the first of the season for the Bulldogs (10-1, 8-1 in league) in a best-of-three match. More importantly, the defeat puts Burbank in a tie for the league lead with Arcadia (14-7, 8-1) with five league matches remaining.
The loss was a setback for Burbank, which defeated the Apaches on Sept. 18 for the first time since joining the Pacific League seven years ago. The Bulldogs, who have never finished higher than third place in the Pacific League, are attempting to win their first league championship in 37 years.
“I just feel that we didn’t do our job today,” Burbank Coach Sarah Brown said. “We didn’t play our best and we made it easy for them. For whatever reason, we just didn’t play our best today.”
Arcadia is no slouch when it comes to domination in the Pacific League. The Apaches have won 27 of the past 31 championships dating back to 1981.
That reputation, along with the fact that they were swept by the Bulldogs in the first match, served as motivation for the Apaches on Thursday.
“Because we lost to them the first time, we just came in like we were going to give it everything that we’ve got,” Arcadia’s Lexi Resch said. “We really had nothing to lose. We just wanted to bring it, and we brought it.”
Resch was unstoppable for Arcadia, tallying a match-high 18 kills. Teammate Allison Stevenson, who was missing during the first match with Burbank, added 10 kills.
The most competitive game of the match was the first. Unfortunately for Burbank, Arcadia jumped out in front early, forcing the Bulldogs to play catch-up throughout the entire stanza.
Down, 23-20, Burbank battled back and trailed by just one, 23-22, following a kill from Katie Hooper. Arcadia then received a kill from Reich and was serving for match-point. However, a foot foul was called on the serve, giving Burbank another chance. But the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, as Reich drove down a kill to give Arcadia the game.
“We just have to learn from this,” Brown said. “We have a lot of season left. We have to move on. If we want to reach our goals we have to move on. We still have a chance at a league title, and our players have to realize that. We just need to refocus and come back.”
Burbank received eight kills each from Stephanie Eskander and Sharon Youn.
The Bulldogs led briefly in the second game, 4-3, but Arcadia came back to snatch the lead and never trailed thereafter.
It was much the same in the third game. Burbank went in front, 3-2, before Arcadia surged ahead and never trailed.