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April 17, 2009

Boys volleyball crawls past Cougars

by Fran Djoukeng, Online Entertainment and Sports Editor
NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM, - April 14

In a rather lackluster effort, the varsity boys’ volleyball team was able to raise their season record to 4-1 in fairly tight matches against the Quince Orchard Cougars (4-3). The Blazers exhibited some flaws in techniques and allowed their opponents to catch up in the score.

The Blazers managed to win by only eight points in their first and best set at 25-17. Continuous aces and surges in defensive intensity allowed the Blazers to capture the second and third matches by even tighter margins as the Cougars seldom took advantage on the Blazers’ lax efforts, winning 25-18 and 25-19 respectively.

The home team started the first set strong with excellent serve-receive and powerful hits from key players, especially sophomore Robert Huang. Senior Nick Vujcic was able to penetrate the Quince Orchard side with several aces, totaling over 10 by the end of the night.

Consecutive out-of-bound hits kept the Cougars behind in the score with Blair leading 18-6. Towards the end of the set, the Cougars intensified their performance and focused on plays near to the net by forming solid defensive posts. Still, the Cougars succumbed to foul volleys and the Blazers captured the set 25-17.

Coach Chris Liang expressed disappointment for the team’s play at each set and noted a major factor they were missing. “They need more energy,” Liang said.

Huang also did not praise the team’s performance and felt the game was not typical. “I think we didn’t play as we normally do. We were lucky to win,” he said.

The second set was a close match between the teams as both climbed nearly simultaneously in the score, neither able to lead more than two points for the majority. Blair became dormant at the net with loose defense and weak cohesion, enabling the Cougars to successfully aim at holes on their side of the court. A couple of net fouls hampered Blair from taking the lead and the Cougars were able to tie for subsequent volleys.

Midway through the match the Blazers increased their pace and Quince Orchard dropped balls as the volleys stretched longer. Senior hitter Pan Wang was able to maintain a strong defense and, along with Vujcic, smashed aces to keep Blair slightly ahead. Quince Orchards' short serves and clumsy fumbles with the ball allowed Blair to rack up points and an ace from Vujcic closed the match at 25-18.

Both teams started evenly at the start of the final match with better passing attempts and visible teamwork, picking up momentum and keeping the score at a dead lock. Blair was plagued by dropped balls and the Cougars showed sloppy formation, which allowed some hard hits from Blair end up non-returnable.

Poor serve-receives by all players meant a tie until the Blazers once again picked up their intensity. Huang demonstrated great resilience and focus by setting great aces. Careless communication between Blazers allowed the Cougars to edge up in the score. Still, the Blazers closed out the game 25-19. Vujcic believes these phases hampered a solid victory for Blair. “We hurt ourselves with poor passing and serving errors,” he said. “We definitely needed consistency,”

Wang did not enjoy his team’s play and mentioned areas for improvement. “We didn’t play as well as we should. We made silly mistakes and we need to work together more,” Wang said.
Vujcic believes the team did not do fully triumph in this match. “We have a lot of practice to do and [are] really fortunate to come away with a win.”

The Blazers’ next home game is Wednesday, April 22 against Paint Branch at 5:15 p.m.



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