PASADENA — Behind a strong effort from the four-player contingent of Burroughs High, public schools reigned again at the third annual San Gabriel Valley Boys’ Volleyball All-Star Game hosted at Pasadena Poly on Saturday afternoon.
PHOTOS: San Gabriel Valley boys' All-Star volleyball match
The public school side, which featured players from Burroughs and Crescenta Valley, topped the private school bunch, which included Flintridge Prep’s Trip Westmoreland, 25-17, 25-22, 20-25, 25-18.
The victory completed a public school sweep for a second straight year as the public school underclassmen also won their match earlier Saturday, 2-0. Public schools now own a 2-1 edge over the private teams, which claimed the first all-star game in 2012.
“It’s nice to be a part of this and to share one last game with my seniors,” said Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton, who guided the public team. “I coached the underclassmen last year and it was something I enjoyed. It’s a nice win to end the season.”
Burroughs has had a big role in the success of the fledgling all-star game, as Indians outside hitter Tristan Martin was named public school MVP a year after Daniel Jacobs took home the same honor.
“This was awesome and I actually didn’t expect to be playing in any type of all-star game,” said Martin, who led all players with 13 kills and two blocks. “My coach asked us a couple of weeks ago if we wanted to be in an all-star game and we thought it was awesome.”
At times, all four Burroughs players – Danny Casillas, Jonathan Fuentes, Nick Van Loo and Martin – were on the court at the same time, which served as a big advantage.
“I think we were able to do things that you can’t normally do at an all-star game because we obviously know each other,” Brinton said.
The public school side was dominant in the fourth game, just after the private schools fended off a sweep.
Private school coach Tiare Tuitama of La Salle burned both of her timeouts early, but to no avail as the public schools scored nine of the first 10 points and eventually raced to a 12-2 lead.
While the private team tried its best to battle back, closing to within 14-8 on a kill from Westmoreland (two kills and two blocks), it didn’t close the gap to less than five points until a double-hit violation brought the home team to within 21-17.
From that point, though, the public team responded with three straight kills from Martin to pull within match-point, 24-17.
Although a kill from Salesian’s Philip Magallon staved off his team’s elimination, on the following possession, Arcadia’s Howard Huang (three aces and two kills) closed out a 25-18 victory with a cross-court kill.
The victory differed from the more competitive nature of the first three games, as the first set was tied at 12 before the public side jumped out to a 7-0 run fueled by four of nine kills contributed from Fuentes.
The public side eventually won the first game, 25-17, and then was deadlocked at 15 in the second game.
This time, the public side scored five of the next six points in vaulting ahead, 20-16, and never turning back en route to a 25-22 win.
There was no clean sweep for the public side, though, as the private team took its own 20-16 advantage in the third game fueled by the strong one-two punch of La Salle’s Conor Williams (seven kills) and Damien’s Eric Leggio (seven kills and six blocks).
Perhaps lost in all the offensive fireworks were 10 digs during the third game from the private school’s Cody Hiroto, a Rio Hondo Prep product who became the all-star game’s first-ever libero to win a team MVP award.
A defensive error eventually sealed a 25-20 private school victory in the third game.
“It was nice to get one win,” Westmoreland, the lone local on the private school team, quipped after the match, “but this was a great experience. I had a good time and was part of a talented team.”
Crescenta Valley’s Chris Han and Bradley Fernandez also took part for the victorious public school team and Fernandez chipped in two kills and one block.
Proceeds from the match benefited AbilityFirst, a program dedicated to children and adults with disabilities, while the officials from the match donated their time to referee.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.