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Spartans tested but still sweep

June 09, 2006|By Edgar Melik-Stepanyan

WESTMINSTER — They advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals with a three-game victory, but the members of the La Cañada High boys' volleyball team sure didn't feel like they swept Westminster La Quinta on Tuesday.

"They made us work for [the victory]," Spartan senior outside hitter Joe Hummel said after his team's 25-20, 25-23, 25-22 second-round road victory that took 67 minutes to complete.

"It was a battle all the way through."

La Cañada (17-4), which has yet to lose a game in the postseason, won the battle and earned the right to play Paraclete or Brentwood in Friday's quarterfinals.

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Spartan Coach Brock Turner had an explanation for his team's tough match.

"We had to keep [the fans] in the stands," he joked. "We wanted to make it exciting."

His players would have preferred that the match be a bit easier.

It looked like it might be after the Spartans, the Rio Hondo League champions for the first time in school history, took the first game in 16 minutes.

The Spartans scored seven of the final nine points in the game — including five straight to build a 24-18 lead — as Hummel, fellow outside hitter Mike Gaudino and setter Armen Haroutunian had their way.

La Cañada started the second game by scoring 10 of the first 12 points and maintained a comfortable cushion until La Quinta (20-7) began its comeback.

Numerous Spartan unforced errors allowed the Aztecs to tie the match at 21.

"We were struggling in the second game," Gaudino said.

"Toward the end, we had a sense of urgency."

Gaudino, Haroutunian and Hummel went to work, as they didn't allow the Aztecs to recapture the lead.

Three consecutive kills, one by each captain, gave La Cañada a 24-21 lead. A Hummel putaway ended the game.

"We're good at closing games," Turner said.

"We know we have to push it when the game gets toward the end. It helps to have Mike, but the other guys also stepped up."

Gaudino and company almost gave up a game, as the Spartans trailed, 20-15, in the third stanza before rallying off five consecutive points.

La Quinta came back with two more points, but it remained stuck at 22, as two Gaudino kills, a Haroutunian ace and a pair of Aztec unforced errors ended the match.

Gaudino, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year who has committed to Cal State Northridge, finished with 19 kills. He now has an area-leading 618 on the year.

Haroutunian had 27 assists and Hummel contributed with a solid performance, tallying nine kills and a pair of blocks.

"These guys never fade," Turner said. "But we're not done [showing] how good we really are."

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