Where was the Falcons' vaunted counter-attack as the Panthers slowed the game to a crawl on Wednesday?
"We left it in Palm Springs," Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju said in reference to the site of his team's quarterfinal win over Palm Springs on Tuesday.
And what of Crescenta Valley's big offensive guns?
"We had played them before, so we knew what their tendencies were in terms of their driving," Panthers Coach Ryan Katsuyama said. "We knew who their strong players were and it was our job as a team to take away their strengths and force their weaker players to put up the shots."
How the Panthers were able to so completely neutralize a division favorite which had already dispatched them twice in the regular season somewhat defied explanation.But the key would appear to be twofold, with the first element being the brilliant defensive game plan Katsuyama devised to foil the Falcons and how flawlessly his players executed it.
"They kept us off-balance," Falcons hole/set Alan Dearman said. "We were nine meters away from the cage on the outside at all times. We never got within striking distance. It's hard to score when you can't get close to the cage."
On top of that, the motivated Panthers just seemed to feel like it was their time to land a staggering blow in what had been, up until Wednesday, a one-sided playoff rivalry.
"Before this game I've been 0-6 against CV," said Poly standout hole/set Henry Pray, who was a part of the teams that lost to the Falcons in the playoffs each of the last two years and lost 9-6 at Poly on Sept. 21 and again in the Oxnard Tournament on Oct. 16, 8-6. "It's huge. I wouldn't want to beat any other team but CV. We were ready, we came out hard."