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Strong start fizzles for CHS

A packed house inside Claremont High’s east gymnasium watched the Wolfpack boys volleyball team battle the Burbank Burroughs Indians on Tuesday evening. The Indians sought to avenge an early-season loss to the undefeated Wolfpack in the Pacific League’s ultimate regular season match. Claremont took the first set, but could not keep the momentum and fell to Burroughs, 3 sets to one.

Claremont’s unbeaten run has been impressive. The Pack posted a league record of 11 wins and no losses, having swept Arcadia in 3 sets last Thursday. Burroughs has kept right on Claremont’s heels, however. With a 10-1 record, the Indians’ only loss of the season was a 5 set loss to the Wolfpack back on March 29. This match would determine who would finish atop the Pacific League standings.

Coach Bernie Wendling commented on the history between the teams. “It is always a great game when we play Burroughs. Last time it was a 5-setter and we edged them. Their best player won co-MVP with ours. But we are a top 10 team in the division and I will always feel that we can win.”

The atmosphere was absolutely electric, as the starting lineups were announced. Claremont came out on fire in the first set. The Pack’s pairing of Stephen Zetterberg and Lane Giammalva proved tough to stop for the Indians. With the score tied at 17, Zetterberg served 8 straight points and Claremont took the set 25-17.

“The crowd was amazing, so much energy. Our team is mostly seniors so they have that sense of urgency that I love. We started off so well and then lost a little momentum in the second set, then started to make mistakes, especially serving,” said coach Wendling.

Claremont kept the pressure going in the 2nd set, jumping out to a 21-18 lead. Burroughs took a much-needed time-out. This proved to be a turning point in the match. The Indians tied the score at 23, and then battled to score the necessary 2-point margin to win the set. Claremont’s Hunter McIntyre and Stan Reeder kept a vital point alive with important blocks up front. At 25-25, Burroughs then rallied to win the set 27-25 when outside hitter Daniel Jacobs smashed a kill into the ground.

The Indians’ defensive specialist Danny Casillas and hitter Daniel Marbach began to find their groove, while the 6’5” Shayne Beamer and the high-flying Jacobs picked up important kills in the closing sets. The 3rd set featured 15 tie-scores. It seemed as if Claremont picked up momentum when Donovan Robinson blocked a strong smash by Beamer to make it 17-16 to the Pack. Not to be outdone, the Indians won 4 straight points thereafter and took a closely fought set 25-23.

The 3rd set proved key, and the Indians showed they had the impetus needed to secure Claremont’s first league loss of the season. With the score tied at 12, Burroughs hitters Beamer and Jacobs continued to pound the ball into the ground. Burroughs pulled away and took the 4th and final set 25-17. Wendling was specific about areas of improvement. “We need to get better defensively. We need to get better at digging the ball and serving, as we looked weak today at those 2 things. Our team has the weapons to get to at least the quarterfinals of CIF.”

Claremont had secured a playoff spot approximately a month ago, so both teams await their fate. The CIF-SS playoff draw will take place this weekend, and knockout matches will commence early next week. Rest assured, the Wolfpack’s progress will be tracked closely as they battle for a CIF title.

—Chris Oakley

sports@claremont-courier.com

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