Boys’ volleyball loses first round of playoffs to Burroughs, 2-3

Story by: Zoe Chen
Staff Writer

Photo by: Shin-Hye (Rachel) Choi 
Staff Photographer

Boys’ volleyball lost their Division III playoff game 2-3 on Thursday, April 25 to John Burroughs High School. The game concluded the Tigers’ successful season. 

South Pasadena gained the first point after Burroughs hit the ball into the net, but they retaliated with a successful block. Service errors affected both teams, and the scores tied at almost every point value. Each team managed successful digs, which created long, back-and-forth rallies. 

The Tigers performed strong kills, but the Bears’ blocks were perfectly placed and repeatedly caught the Tigers off guard. Burroughs began to pull ahead at 11-11 with successful blocks. An ace from senior libero Ryan Estanislao gave the Tigers a boost of confidence and brought the score to 13-14. Another ace from senior setter Nigel Mundara brought the Tigers into the lead, 16-15. 

South Pasadena managed to stay afloat for the remainder of the set. A powerful kill from sophomore outside hitter Conan Lafferty brought the score to 22-19. A quick middle attack from junior middle hitter James Dowd put the Tigers a single point away from a set victory, 24-21. Despite a last-minute Burroughs timeout, South Pasadena took the first set 25-22.

South Pasadena played well in the first half of the second set. Junior outside hitter Martin Walsh served an ace early on, and junior opposite hitter Jack Pellerin followed with a kill that evaded the Bear blockers. A kill from freshman opposite hitter Liam Johnson gave the Tigers a five-point lead, 12-7. 

Burroughs lost confidence, and their defense faltered; this allowed South Pasadena to maintain their impressive lead up until 23-17, only two points away from a set victory. 

However, the Tigers wavered after an out-of-bounds serve, and the Bears swooped in to reclaim a streak of momentum. Three more out Tiger attacks and serves all but caught the Bears up, 24-23. South Pasadena took a timeout. 

Lafferty performed a strong kill, and the score became 25-24. Burroughs countered with a kill of their own, 25-25. The scores tied again 26-26, then 27-27. Another timeout was called. 

A quick attack from the Bears brought the score to 27-28. The final rally featured impressive saves from Mundara and blocks from Dowd and Lafferty, but an out-of-bounds Tiger kill ended the set in the Bears’ favor, 27-29. The match score was 1-1. 

South Pasadena trailed throughout the third set; their serve receives were particularly sloppy. Unable to dig Burroughs kills, South Pasadena fell behind 10-15. 

A well-timed set from senior setter Ian Chang to Dowd gained the Tigers a point, and a failed Bear dump gained the Tigers another. An extremely long rally — which featured blocks from Johnson and Dowd, digs from Mundara and Estanislao, and a final kill from Lafferty — gained the Tigers a third point, 13-15. 

South Pasadena continued their streak all the way to a 17-17 tie. However, Burroughs pulled ahead again with kills that avoided South Pasadena’s blockers. An out-of-bounds Tiger hit followed by a Tiger service error gave the Bears the set, 22-25. The Tigers trailed in the match, 1-2. 

Neither team gained a particularly substantial lead in the early fourth set. South Pasadena repeatedly displayed impressive kills from Lafferty, Dowd, and Walsh, but Burroughs countered with their own kills and quick middle-hitter attacks. 

South Pasadena’s had a huge increase in confidence at 16-16, and the set turned in the Tigers’ favor. The Tigers successfully took the next seven rallies — three of which came from back-to-back aces by Lafferty. A kill from Dowd brought the Tigers up to 23-16. When the Bears set the ball too close to the net, Walsh reached over and tipped the ball onto the Bears’ court, thus ending the set 25-17 in the Tigers’ favor. Each team was tied 2-2 in the match. 

The Tigers’ fourth-set energy did not carry over into the fifth. Uncontrolled Tiger bumps, combined with the Bears’ well-placed kills, gave the Bears an upper hand 3-8. A kill from Walsh gained the Tigers a point, 4-8, but South Pasadena called a timeout soon after. 

JV freshman Luke Liu entered the rotation, which completely changed the team’s dynamic — energy was elevated, and the Tigers came close to catching up with the Bears. However, Burroughs was dangerously close to the 15 they needed to win the fifth set. 

A block from Dowd gained the Tigers their last point, 10-13. A successful kill from the Bears followed by a block gave Burroughs the final two points they needed. With that, the Tigers lost the set 10-15 and the match 2-3. The loss eliminated South Pasadena from the playoffs and ended their 2023–24 season. Burroughs lost their Round 2 playoffs game two days later to St. Margaret’s, 0-3.

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