Playoffs not in Golden Knights' cards

Volleyball: St. Francis squanders 2-0 lead to fall in five, failing to force playoff tiebreaker.

May 07, 2011|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan, Special to the News-Press

ENCINO — Officially, Friday's match was the Mission League finale for the St. Francis High and Crespi boys' volleyball teams.

But it was essentially a sudden-death match for the Golden Knights. St. Francis needed a win to keep its season alive and have a chance at advancing to the postseason for the first time since 2005.

If they defeated Crespi, the Golden Knights would have played Harvard-Westlake only 30 minutes after their match in a tie-breaking contest for the final playoff spot.


St. Francis never got to the tiebreaking match.

For the second time in league play, the Golden Knights blew a two-games-to-none lead, falling to host Crespi, 23-25, 16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-8.

"I've been playing or coaching volleyball for 30 years now," St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee said. "I've been doing this for a long, long time. I don't mind walking out of a gym knowing that we gave it our all.

"It's tough to swallow. It's a real life lesson. I know [my players] will understand that, whether it's tomorrow or 10 years from now."

The scenario entering Friday's match was certainly unique.

Harvard-Westlake and Alemany had already finished league play with identical 5-7 records. St. Francis entered the match with a 4-7 mark. Harvard-Westlake, Alemany and St. Francis took part in a coin flip Friday morning to determine the league's third- and fourth-place teams in the event that the Golden Knights prevailed later that day.

Alemany won the coin flip and was awarded the automatic third-place playoff spot. Harvard-Westlake also traveled to Crespi, knowing that it might have had to play St. Francis late Friday night to determine the final postseason berth from the league.

Harvard-Westlake ended up being Crespi's biggest fans.

"The fact that we might play at 8 o'clock tonight is definitely unique," said Harvard-Westlake assistant Mike Gaudino, a La Canada High graduate and former All-Area Player of the Year. "I'm definitely rooting for [Crespi]."

Harvard-Westlake began warming up during the third game when St. Francis — which swept Harvard-Westlake in two matches and split its season series against Alemany — took the second game and a commanding lead.

"We knew we had them in the first two," Frazee said.

The Golden Knights almost took the third game, but a pair of kills by a Crespi team celebrating senior night forced another game. Crespi (9-3 in league) had already clinched the league's second-place spot, behind Loyola (12-0).

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