BVB: Owls work up a sweat before sweeping Providence

Laguna Blanca had to play a waiting game before it took out Burbank-Providence in three sets in the second round of the CIF Division 5 boys volleyball playoffs on Thursday night.

Coach Dillan Bennett put his third-seeded team through a practice before the match as Providence arrived 45 minutes late for a 6 p.m., first serve. The already sweaty Owls didn’t seem bothered. They went out and scored a 25-15, 25-20, 25-20 sweep to advance to a quarterfinal match on the road on Saturday.

Middle/opposite Chris Costantino had a team-high 9 kills and put up a big block for the Owls, notching five block assists. Middle Jack Copeland combined with Costantino on several blocks in the third set and added eight kills. Ryan Bickett had seven kills, 10 digs and posted a 2.7 passing rating out of 3.0.

“I was pleased with how we played, considering we basically had a practice before the match started,” Bennett said. “We planned to be here by 4:45-5 o’clock, an hour before the match, and we ended up not serving a ball until 6:47. That’s a long warm-up for a bunch of high school guys who are jacked-up to play a second-round game. Fortunately, we came out and played well in Game 1.”

Game 2 was a little closer until Costantino went off. He tied the score at 5-5 with a kill and followed with a stuff block to put Laguna into the lead for good. Costantino scored four points during a six-point run for a 9-5 advantage. Providence made a run near the end of the set, cutting the deficit to 22-20. But the Pioneers were called for a violation and committed back-to-back errors to end the match.

The Owls (21-7) showed their blocking power in the third set. Bennett had Costantino and Copeland together in the front row, and they put up a big wall. Ethan Katnic also got into the act on the left side.

“In the third game I decided to switch Chris to the opposite. We had Chris play right side so we could have Chris and Jack in at the same time — they’re two of our biggest blockers,” said Bennett.

The blocking seemed to energize the Owls, who broke the set open after a 15-15 tie.

“Both me and Jack, we’ve had this issue a lot this season where we reach really high (on the block), thinking they’re going to go over us; we’ll get tooled, or they’ll go right by us,” Costantino said. “So what our coaches had been blasting through us the whole game was, ‘press, press, press.’ We finally started doing that and we got a lot of blocks.”

Bennett was pleased with the blocking performance.

“We finally learned to block and pulled it out,” he said. “I think the guys were tired (early in the third set). We basically played a whole five-game match here. I sweat through two shirts through the warm-up just playing with the guys.”

The Owls travel to Ontario Christian for the quarterfinals.