BURBANK HIGH — For five years, her teams could not defeat their Pacific League nemesis.
In her sixth year, her team knew it needed to upend its rival for a chance to play for a league championship.
Coach Sarah Brown's Burbank High girls' volleyball team finally got the best of Arcadia on Tuesday.
For the first time in their coach's tenure, the Bulldogs defeated the Apaches, and although it's just two games into league play, took a major step toward capturing a title for the first time in "forever."
Burbank used its superb serving — it had 11 aces — and stellar defense to notch a 25-16, 25-23, 25-18 victory at home, improving to 4-0, 2-0 in league. Arcadia dropped to 1-1 in league.
"Our goal is to win league," Brown said. "Arcadia is always a force in league. When you play Arcadia, you know it's going to be a tough game. They're always good."
Burbank was better Tuesday.
"This is the first step in reaching that goal of winning league," Brown said. "We haven't won league in forever. Maybe it was in the 1970s."
The Bulldogs might capture their first league title in decades if they continue to play the way they did Tuesday.
They dominated the first game with six aces, including three from senior setter Tyler Brooks, who had 10 assists in the game en route to finishing with 25.
"We know serving is one of the best aspects of the team," Brooks said.
Brooks and her teammates caused havoc for the Apaches' offense, never allowing Arcadia to get into a sustained rhythm in the first game and for vast portions of the second.
Burbank's miscues allowed Arcadia to take a late second-game lead and nearly tie the games at one apiece.
Three consecutive Burbank unforced errors gave the Apaches a 21-18 lead. A 23-20 Arcadia cushion forced Brown to call a timeout.
"I told them, 'This is why you play volleyball, this is why it's fun, this is why you're an athlete, this is why you compete,'" she said.
Burbank competed and Arcadia struggled, as the Bulldogs scored five consecutive points on two unforced errors, a Sharon Youn put-away and a Stefanie Lin kill that ended the game.
"We took care of our business," said Youn, who had eight kills and two aces. "That's how we won."
The Bulldogs' stellar service game returned in the third game, as they notched five more aces to take the match.
Brooks and Youn had plenty of help from their teammates.
Katie Hooper, Stephanie Eskander and Jamie Gonzalez each had nine kills and Sara Treadway had 14 assists. Denise Daniel also added five kills for a Bulldog squad that might be the best ever under Brown.
Said Brooks: "This win means we have the chance to be the best team we've ever been."