Silver Chips Online

Boys' volleyball falls in County Championships

Rockets blow up Blazers in three sets

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
May 15, 2009

After two hours of intense play, the third-seed Blair boys' varsity volleyball team lost to the fourth-seed Richard Montgomery Rockets in three straight sets during the Montgomery County Championships on Thursday night held at Col. Zadok Magruder High School. Beginning with the first point of the game, the Blazers' inability to cover and consistently pass plagued them throughout the match, and they ultimately fell to the Rockets, 25-15, 25-19 and 28-26.
Senior Nick Vujcic jumps high above the net to smash a powerful shot. <i>Picture courtesy of Peggy Houng.</i>
Senior Nick Vujcic jumps high above the net to smash a powerful shot. Picture courtesy of Peggy Houng.

Although the Blair team was studded with stronger hitters and an overall more robust offense, in the end, the Rockets' powerful defense won the game. In contrast to Blair's strong hitting, the Richard Montgomery team, which only had a few strong hitters, was able to get to the ball and use their consistent defense to their advantage.

After losing the first two sets to the Rockets, the Blazers knew the third set was a "do or die" situation. Immediately, the Rockets built on the momentum of their previous two set wins by putting four consecutive points on the board. However, the Blazers were gradually able to pick up their pace with the help of senior co-captain Willy Li and freshman outside hitter Andy Zhang. Although both teams were neck-and-neck until the very end of the set and match, the Rockets were able to pull through after several Blair blocking and covering errors, winning 28-26.

Unlike the tight, nerve-wracking third set, the second set of the night was less of a battle for the Rockets. In the second set, the Blazers demonstrated their strong points, but also the problems that cost them the match. Time and again, sophomore co-captain setter Robert Huang was able to effectively put pressure on the strong Rocket defense. On the defensive side, junior libero co-captain Pin-Joe Ko was able to keep the ball on Blazer territory, allowing the offensive line-up, consisting of Zhang, senior outside hitter Pan Wang and senior middle hitter Nick Vujcic, to work its magic.

However, the Blazers also missed more than 10 serves, giving Richard Montgomery around half of their points in the set. In the end, the Blazers were not able to keep up with the Rockets, giving Richard Montgomery a comfortable 25-19 win for the set. Co-captain setter Huang saw two main problems with the Blazer play. "Our passing was sub-par," he noted. "Also, we had many missed serves."
Sophomore co-captain Robert Huang hits the ball over the net. <i>Picture courtesy of Peggy Houng.</i>
Sophomore co-captain Robert Huang hits the ball over the net. Picture courtesy of Peggy Houng.

Though the Blazers were continually upset during the second set, the first set of the night was the most frustrating for the Blair team, as the Rockets soundly blasted Blair out of the gym, 25-15. The Rockets started the match with only a two point lead. However, they were able to capitalize on Blair's mistakes, and near the end of the set, led by a whopping 11 points. Unable to get their passing and covering in shape, Blair could not successfully build up its defense, resulting in a crushing 10 point loss in the first set.

Outsider hitter Wang attributed the Blazers' overall loss to a lack of pace. "We started off too slowly," he said. "We came out lazy, so they took it from us." Co-captain Ko believed the loss was also partly due to the novelty of the Rockets' techniques and approaches. "RM is a team we never played before so I guess we weren't used to their playing style," he said.

Despite the disappointing loss, head coach Chris Liang believed that the Blazers played as hard as they could. "We played well," he said. Ko, who also believed that the Blair team did well despite their mistakes, saw the overall picture as more important. "I'm really proud of our team for our great season," he said.