Lightning hits Prep

Volleyball: Rebels boys knocked out in second round of playoffs by visiting Sage Hill.

May 14, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Counterintuitive as it may seem, a lead late in a game seemed to be the last thing either team wanted in Thursday night’s CIF Southern Section Division V second-round playoff game between Sage Hill High and host Flintridge Prep.

In two of the first three games, the team that trailed late rallied to win and the Rebels did their best to follow suit with a furious rally in the fourth game after the Lightning began to pull away late.

“I told the kids [before the fourth game], we almost don’t want a lead, because whoever led early seemed to lose the game in the end,” Prep Coach Sean Beattie said. “It was almost like you wanted to be behind going in.”


But Sage Hill bucked the trend for good, weathering the Rebels’ fourth-game comeback and fending off game point to preserve a 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 26-24 win.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons, our guys found a way, though,” said Sage Hill Coach Dan Thomassen, whose sixth-seeded team will host Arrowhead Christian Academy in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Saturday. “That second and fourth game we were behind both games and found a way to win.”Following its win in the third game, the only stanza not to feature a tight battle down the stretch, Sage Hill (17-9) tipped the balance of a neck-and-neck fourth game by going up, 15-11, on a kill by Mattias Russo-Larsson, who led all players with 23 kills.

A timeout got the Rebels (16-8) back on track and they tied the game at 16 on a 5-1 run that included one of middle blocker Kenyatta Smith’s 10 kills.

But the Rebels weren’t done, extending the streak, which was fueled in part by a five-point service run by Chris Davis, to take a 19-16 lead.

“Chris Davis came out with an amazing amount of jump serves and he really jump-started that comeback,” said Beattie, whose team advanced to the Division V semifinals last season.

After Sage Hill tied the game at 19, there were five lead changes and four ties down the stretch, with the Rebels taking a 24-23 lead on a ball into the net.

But a Rebels hitting error gave the Lightning the serve back and Cole Kirby (15 kills) made good with an ace to give Sage Hill match-point at 25-24.

Sage Hill looked sharper from the start in the first game, leading, 17-11, before Prep made its move, battling to take a 23-22 lead and sealing the win on a kill by Edmund Chow, who led the Rebels with 11 kills and 11 digs.

The second game saw Prep take that momentum and run with it, going up, 18-13.

Prep still held a four-point lead after Chow’s tip made it 22-18, but Sage Hill closed the game on a 7-1 run.

“It seemed like every game there was a turnaround,” Thomassen said. “The first game we had a decisive lead and they found a way to claw back at home.”

Beattie praised his fifth-seeded team for its strong season that included a Prep League tri-championship.

“Early in the year I heard a lot us people tell us it was a rebuilding year with how much we lost,” said Beattie, who graduated some key players from last year’s squad. “I hate that term. I told the guys for a quote-unquote rebuilding year, to win the first league championship in nine years for the school, to be ranked in the top five [in Division V] for most of the year and to play some amazing games with some great teams, I couldn’t be more proud than I am of our team.”

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