“We talked about the goal of winning our first playoff match,” said Coach Joel Brinton, who has piloted his team to three postseason appearances in four seasons. “But now, we think we have the talent to hopefully make a deep run in the playoffs.”
Burroughs (23-7) will have a chance to do that Thursday in a second-round playoff match. The Indians will take on the winner of the Cerritos Valley Christian (23-3)-El Dorado (9-7) contest. If Valley Christian wins it will be a coin flip as to who will host the match. If El Dorado wins, it will host the contest.
The Indians have been able to step up their play late in the season. Tuesday’s win was the team’s 11 straight and Burroughs has won 19 of its last 20 contests.
“We really wanted to win a playoff game, mainly for Coach Brinton,” said junior outside hitter Lucas Yanez. “He has done so much for us and this program that we wanted to get him one.”
Yanez stepped it up against a solid Hart (20-9) team that finished second the Foothill League and had its best season in 16 years. Yanez tallied a match-high 15 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Ike Nwachie added nine kills.
Hart was dealt a big blow when 6-foot-7 junior Taylor Gregory had to leave the match in the first game with what appeared to be a dislocated left thumb. Burroughs was leading at the time, 13-11.
“I think losing him was more of a psychological blow for them,” said Brinton of Gregory, who never returned. “Just not having him in there probably threw them off a little.
“But we didn’t take full advantage of the situation like we should have with him out of there.”
Burroughs had to battle in the first game, as Hart wouldn’t let the local Indians get much of a lead. Burroughs was able to take a slim advantage, 16-13, but Hart kept coming back.
Burroughs did take control late, as Yanez had three kills to help close out the game.
Hart jumped out to a 3-1 lead to start the second game. However, Burroughs battled back to grab an 11-10 advantage. It never trailed after that point.
Burroughs led throughout the third game.
“We have to play a little better than we did today if we want to continue winning in the playoffs,” Brinton said.