BURBANK — High implications resulted in a playoff atmosphere Tuesday at Burroughs High when the Indians hosted Arcadia in a battle for first place atop the Pacific League girls' volleyball standings.
Perhaps fittingly, the match needed five games to determine a winner, as both teams took turns garnering and sustaining momentum. But it would be the Apaches who played a near-flawless fifth and deciding game to seal the 25-22, 25-12, 15-25, 17-25, 15-10 victory.
"We were pretty fired up for this one," said Indians Coach Edwin Real, who guided Burroughs to the CIF Southern Section Division II-A quarterfinals last season after finishing third behind co-champions Burbank and Arcadia.
The high energy was evident early Tuesday, as the Indians jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first game. The solid play gave way to a lack of focus midway through, however, and the Apaches took advantage by cutting into the lead until tying it at 15. Arcadia eventually took control of the game to the tune of an 11-3 run and a 24-18 lead. Burroughs (6-5, 3-1 in league) responded by scoring the next four points, only to succumb to match-point.
The second game was almost never in doubt, as Arcadia (6-4, 4-0) carried over the momentum and took eight of the game's first 10 points to give itself a lead it would not relinquish.
"We fell apart [in the first game], and didn't play as a team," Real said. "It carried onto the second game and we never recuperated. I talked to some of the kids, trying to jump-start it."
Burroughs came out re-energized in the third, turning the tables on Arcadia with a dominating run of its own. The Indians never trailed in the frame and led by as many as 12 points — 22-10 and 23-11 — shortly before closing it out.
With the hosts looking to force a fifth game, and the visitors looking to notch a victory, the fourth game was tightly contested early on and saw six ties after 16 points. The game's third lead change went in favor of the Indians, who separated themselves from Arcadia soon after with five unanswered points to turn a slim 12-11 margin into 17-11 advantage. The Indians sustained the momentum, and evened up the match, rather comfortably thereafter.
"We changed the lineup [after the second game], and started firing on all cylinders," Real said. "We started making plays, and hitting good shots."
Burroughs scored the fifth game's opening point, and never led again, as Arcadia was relentless and aggressive on offense en route to clinching the match. Burroughs did tie the score at 10-10, but Arcadia closed it out with five unanswered points.
Real inserted Alexis Hamilton back into the lineup in the third after she sat the first two games of the match due to disciplinary issues. The team was without Kelsey Strong for the entire match, though, as she will be out the rest of the week with an eye injury.
After the match, Real said Hamilton's temporary absence was no excuse for not playing as a team the first two games, something he was disappointed about.
As close at the contest was, the Indians are already looking forward to the rematch of the two Pacific League mainstays Oct. 24 at Arcadia.
"Our confidence was up," said Kaitlin Cottrell, who along with Katie Rutecki led the Indians with 15 kills. "Our energy was high. Somehow they just caught up to us.
"We'll get them next time."
The Indians return to action Thursday with a home Pacific League match against Pasadena.