Photos by Tucker Judkins
South Pasadena’s 11th-seeded playoff run came to a close in CIF semifinals on Wednesday, May 18 with a 3-0 loss to the John Burroughs Indians. The Tigers trailed closely in the first two sets with scores of 25-22 and 25-23, but fell apart in the third set with a score of 25-11, giving the Indians the sweep.
After upsetting the second-seeded Laguna Beach Breakers in quarterfinals on Saturday, May 14, South Pas was determined to defeat against the Indians despite facing off against another heavily-favored team. The Tigers jumped out to an early 4-2 lead in the opening points of the first set with offensive help from junior Matt Scholtz. The Indians countered back to tie the score at 8-8 with both sides getting a feel for each other’s’ play style. A massive block by Scholtz, followed by a kill from senior Greg Luck, pushed the Tiger lead to five points, forcing an Indian timeout at 13-9. Coming back out, Burroughs settled their offense by feeding their outside hitters to close the gap on the scoreboard and tie the game at 17-17. The Tigers would try to inch their way to a 25th point when Greg Luck stuffed a Burroughs hitter to move the score to 20-18 in the Indians’ favor. Senior Max Luck would chalk up a monster kill of his own to bring the South Pas deficit to 21-20. The Tigers had an opportunity to tie the score at 22-22, but faltered against the Indian outside hitters the next three plays to end the set with the score at 25-22, Burroughs now with a 1-0 lead.
South Pas kicked off the second set after a running save by Max Luck managed to set up senior Matthew Ng for a perfectly placed kill behind the Indian defense. Ng would once again find an opening in Burroughs’ front line to tally up another kill and give the Tigers a 5-3 lead. However, Burroughs fired back to tie the game with an ace. A 4-0 Indian run would push Burroughs into the lead with a score of 13-12. From here, South Pas spent the majority of the set playing catch up. Junior Gunther Vaden helped South Pas tie the game at 18-18 after scoring a kill followed by an ace barely inside the boundary lines. South Pas crawled its way back into a 22-22 tie. In the Tigers’ next possession, a controversial serve by Ng gave the Indians a 23-22 lead. Although down by only one point, the Tigers couldn’t recover and dropped the next two points and ultimately a second straight set by a score of 25-23.
Still reeling from their loss in the previous set, South Pas struggled heading into the third set. A decisive 8-3 lead pushed the Indians in the front with the overall advantage. The Tigers failed to develop any answer to stop the Burroughs offense, accompanied by mental lapses on the court. South Pas had no momentum to rally behind as the Indians continued to score kill after kill against the Tigers. Burroughs would cap off the night with a 25-11 win over South Pas, completing the sweep.
This loss concludes the the Tigers’ 2015-2016 season with an overall record of 26-8. The Tigers made waves in the playoffs on an unlikely run, highlighted by the knocking off of a highly seeded Laguna Beach team in quarterfinals. The team is now looking to the future and how they will cope with the loss of many key seniors.