By Brandon HENSLEY
With each point earned late in the fourth set, it became clear the Crescenta Valley High School girls’ volleyball team was taking this match as seriously as any this season. Others thought it was an important match as well, as athletic director Peter Kim implored the boys’ basketball team to come after their practice and root on the Lady Falcons in front of an excited crowd.
And after the Falcons scored the last point, every player on the court ran to each other and yelled and hugged in celebration of a huge Pacific League win on Tuesday, a 3-1 triumph over the visiting Burbank Bulldogs.
Patty Kerman had 16 kills, and Annamarie Alvarez had 12 kills for the Falcons, who improved their record to 8-7 overall. More importantly, they moved to 5-1 in league, which gave them control of second place.
Still reeling from the loss to Burroughs last week, the Falcons struggled from the beginning of the first set against Burbank (4-2 in league), and lost 26-24. Coach Kevin Boyke said his team didn’t come out with the kind of intensity he hoped for. He implored the girls to find whatever was missing and then carry it through to the end.
“We always want to play our style of volleyball. Our style is very passionate, very aggressive [and] it’s very technical. For us, the key to the match was to turn it around [to] play it our way,” Boyke said.
Senior Elise Boyle said during the match Boyke told them to forget about past mistakes and concentrate on being in the moment.
“We kind of lost focus,” Boyle said of the rough start. “We lost discipline a bit, but we found it in the second set. It’s more about finding confidence in ourselves.”
Crescenta Valley took the next two sets before being challenged in the final set. Burbank capitalized on Falcon miscues and took a 17-13 lead. CV buckled down and managed a close 26-24 win to end it.
Senior Noor Alanizi had seven aces for CV.
“We put a lot of emphasis on serving. I think we only missed one or two serves this game,” Boyle said. “That really helps us because it puts the other team at a disadvantage.”
From the beginning of the season, Boyke and his players have talked about a culture change ever since Boyke took over in 2015. Not only have fundraising efforts paid off in the form of new nets and volleyballs, but the environment has developed into a passionate, one-for-all, all-for-one culture.
Who is to say if that’s the reason why CV is 5-1 heading into today’s match at Arcadia, but the girls appreciate the attention on fitness, fundamentals and team unity.
“One thing we focus on as a program is passion; every single practice, every single game,” Boyle said.
The Burroughs loss may have been a misstep, but Boyke said every loss provides a chance to reflect and improve.
“We talked about it. It’s as simple as that. We talked about the Burroughs loss, and then we talked about Burbank and what we needed to do to win,” he said. “We try to turn all of these things into lessons.”
“Obviously, we wanted to beat Burroughs, and this match was just as important,” Boyle said.
Boyle was right. It was just as important, because now today’s match is set up for a chance to take first place from the Apaches, who sit at 6-0 in league and have lost only one set this season (CV has lost four – it was swept by Burroughs).
Boyke said Arcadia has talented outside players all around and are well-prepared.
“They’re going to be a very challenging team to beat and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.