St. Francis never got to the tiebreaking match.
For the second time in league play, the Golden Knights blew a two-games-to-none lead, falling to host Crespi, 23-25, 16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-8.
"I've been playing or coaching volleyball for 30 years now," St. Francis Coach Mark Frazee said. "I've been doing this for a long, long time. I don't mind walking out of a gym knowing that we gave it our all.
"It's tough to swallow. It's a real life lesson. I know [my players] will understand that, whether it's tomorrow or 10 years from now."
The scenario entering Friday's match was certainly unique.
Harvard-Westlake and Alemany had already finished league play with identical 5-7 records. St. Francis entered the match with a 4-7 mark. Harvard-Westlake, Alemany and St. Francis took part in a coin flip Friday morning to determine the league's third- and fourth-place teams in the event that the Golden Knights prevailed later that day.
Alemany won the coin flip and was awarded the automatic third-place playoff spot. Harvard-Westlake also traveled to Crespi, knowing that it might have had to play St. Francis late Friday night to determine the final postseason berth from the league.
Harvard-Westlake ended up being Crespi's biggest fans.
"The fact that we might play at 8 o'clock tonight is definitely unique," said Harvard-Westlake assistant Mike Gaudino, a La Canada High graduate and former All-Area Player of the Year. "I'm definitely rooting for [Crespi]."
Harvard-Westlake began warming up during the third game when St. Francis — which swept Harvard-Westlake in two matches and split its season series against Alemany — took the second game and a commanding lead.
"We knew we had them in the first two," Frazee said.
The Golden Knights almost took the third game, but a pair of kills by a Crespi team celebrating senior night forced another game. Crespi (9-3 in league) had already clinched the league's second-place spot, behind Loyola (12-0).