HomeBlocksFront-GridFalcons Battle in CIF First-Round Win

Falcons Battle in CIF First-Round Win

Despite not feeling completely 100%, Crescenta Valley High School junior Isabel Haytayan felt she had to step in to help the Falcons girls’ volleyball team in their CIF Southern Section Division IV playoff opener, considering a few key players and starters were out for the contest.
Haytayan pushed through, as did the fourth-seeded Falcons in their first-round matchup against La Habra High School on Thursday.
Behind the junior’s 14 kills, Crescenta Valley advanced to the second round of the Division IV playoffs with a 26-24, 25-10, 17-25, 25-19 victory over visiting La Habra.
“We play for each other,” said Haytayan, who also assisted on four blocks. “We motivate each other to be our best and to win for your teammates. They’re a good team and I’m proud of us for pulling it out.”
The Falcons, runners-up in the Pacific League, will travel to Placentia to face Crestview League champion El Dorado in the Division IV second round on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Crescenta Valley coach Matt Simons acknowledged the first-round triumph as, “a big win,” and can set the tone for the rest of the team’s playoff run.
“We just want to make sure that our focus is on bringing out the best of ourselves,” said Simons of the second-round playoff matchup. “If our best is as good as their best, that’s OK. We want to make sure we’ll bring out the best of ourselves. That’s the fun part of the year. You’re going to play good teams and you’ve got nothing to lose.”
Falcons freshman Adelyn Lopez, who knocked down the match-winning kill, finished with nine alongside junior opposite Hannah Wyroski, who had a trio of blocks as well. Crescenta Valley senior Pilar Garcia and junior Sofia Shin tallied four aces and senior Jessica Romero contributed three.
The first game was highly contested, but it didn’t start out that way.
Crescenta Valley (33-7 overall) jumped out to a 7-1 lead to begin the match, but a pair of aces from Highlanders senior opposite Amanda Kalpakoff and two points from senior opposite Emilia Vest knotted the first game at 7-7.
The teams tied four times thereafter, with La Habra taking the lead each time. But with the score tied at 13, an ace from Shin gave Crescenta Valley the lead before the junior’s second ace of the set established a three-point advantage.
Kalpakoff’s ace tied the opening game at 20, and another back-and-forth tussle ensued with the Highlanders pulling ahead after every tie.
The game was knotted another four times, but the final stalemate was held at 24-24 before Haytayan’s kill gave the Falcons the lead. A net violation secured the 26-24 first-set victory for the hosts.
“We were a little nervous, and you can tell,” Simons said. “It’s playoff volleyball. We’re working on – when the game gets tight – to view it as a challenge and not as a threat. A lot of times, when you play with confidence, it just makes the world much different. We just focus on playing with confidence.
“La Habra’s a good team and they have a lot of firepower, but I think once we got that first set, there was a little bit of a sigh of relief. We were able to play our game in set two and help us take that lead.”
The playoff jitters didn’t seem to distract one player though.
Falcons junior Caden Pinto flew all over the court, from diving for saves, to forcing her presence at the net. Pinto finished with three blocks and three kills, the third capping an 8-0 run for Crescenta Valley in the second game for an 11-2 lead.
“I didn’t want my season to end, so I put 100% in every play so I could keep playing with my teammates,” Pinto said.
The Falcons went on to outscore the Highlanders 14-7 midway into the set to establish a 17-9 lead. A La Habra service error gave the hosts a 25-10 win in the second game.
Freeway League runner-up La Habra (18-13) bounced back in the third game and led for the majority of the set.
The Falcons pulled within one point early in the game, but a 9-2 run sparked by three kills from Highlanders senior outside hitter Andrea Reza set up a 15-8 advantage. Reza finished the match with 13 kills, four of which came from the 25-17 third-game victory.
La Habra junior opposite Delaney Blied had nine kills to go with a pair of service aces. Vest added five kills, Kalpakoff knocked down four kills and two aces, and senior Emily Radillo chipped in with four kills.
“Third game — that was our big potential,” La Habra coach Jennifer Church said. “That’s what we’ve been playing like all year, but, unfortunately, in games one, two and four, it wasn’t there. It was more the hype and the excitement, and we didn’t know how to channel it.”
Just when momentum swung the visitors’ way, the hosts quelled any threat with another strong start.
The Falcons set up a 5-0 lead in the fourth game before the Highlanders stopped the bleeding, but Haytayan’s four kills ballooned the Crescenta Valley advantage to 11-2.
The Highlanders were able cut the deficit within seven, but Lopez sealed the match for the Falcons.
“I’m really excited,” Haytayan said. “I really love this team, and I’m glad our season isn’t over.”

First published in the October 21 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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