Initial setbacks give way to clean 3-0 win
APRIL 25, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM -
The boys' volleyball team, defending their undefeated record, finished off the Damascus Hornets today in a quick 3-0 game. Initially overwhelmed by careless mistakes, the Blazers defeated the Hornets' tired players by overcoming their own weaknesses and forging an impenetrable web of teamwork, winning 25-22, 25-10 and 25-16.
Before the game, the boys' already knew they were in for a difficult game; without a starting setter (sophomore Willy Li), a backup setter (sophomore Bryan Huang) and an injured starter (senior Tim He), the team was forced into a new, unpracticed formation that included role changes and less experienced players. Minutes before the game started, the boys were struggling in the warm-up as they tried to ease into their new positions. With no players left to substitute in and a near empty bench, the team's starters were left facing a dozen Damascus players.
Last minute cramming wasn't enough for the Blazers, as they lost point after point through careless mistakes. Unaccustomed to the new setter (senior Cyril Lan), and in general offbeat, the team made several lackluster plays that left them behind. By the time that the score was 9-13, the Damascus team had taken advantage of the boys' discomfort with the new formation and was quickly advancing.
Despite Damascus's individual players' flashes of talent, the boys matched the momentum and tied the score at 15-15 after several fatal serves into the net. This tie point marked the boys' shift in energy as the team suddenly began moving fluidly once more. Co-captain senior Jay Chang performed the first clean kill of the evening to make the score 17-18, leaving the room resounding with the ball's smack on the floor. After suffering several more kills and tactful tips, the Hornets ended the set with an anti-climatic finish by hitting into the net, 25-22.
By the next set, the Blazers had regained their usual game and put forth a new wave of strength, dominating the unsuspecting Hornets team. Although out of the game, the Blair bench also contributed to the building energy of the game by cheering louder and shouting encouragements to heighten the excitement.
Whenever the Hornets attempted to pitch their best hits in hopes for some points, co-captain senior Max Wolf answered with solid blocks that left the Hornets unable to get past the net. After the sudden change of Damascus players could not put enough energy into their game despite some strong plays and teamwork. With Zhang's kill at 19-5, the Hornets could only scramble for points to lessen the gap. The match ended at 25-10.
Running off the high of their second set's success, the boys' began the third set with a renewed sense of confidence and perfected a metaphorical phalanx of teamwork: untouchable in one moving force. Junior Anton Do made a sharp kill after returning several hits from the Damascus players, upping the score to 12-9. Already fatigued and with sweat running down their faces, the Hornets made several commendable last stands but could not get past middle player junior Willy Marte and strong teamwork during plays. Zhang ended the game dramatically when he slammed the ball on the other side in a kill, making the final score 25-16.
Although the boys had experienced difficulty in the first set, their improvement as the game progressed belied the true strength of Blair's team. Rather than playing off the expertise of individual players each game, the boys understand best how to compensate for each others' weaknesses. Indeed, this was the case, as Lan, Do, Martes and the rest of the players made remarkable steps to fulfill new roles to make their plays fluid and unbeatable against their opponents. "We were able to adjust to [Damascus's] hitting style...therefore we were successful," said Wolf.
Damascus coach Tim Anderson, who had been subbing his offense and defense players throughout the game, applauded his own team's efforts. According to Anderson, the Damascus players had just expired midway through the game and could not beat neither the heat nor the enthusiastic Blazers. "We showed [them] up for the first game, but we were overwhelmed...I think they lost the momentum," he explained, "We just got outplayed by the better team."
Chang commended the boys' performance against the numerous obstacles, saying that "everybody picked up everybody else's slack." Coach Sang Ahn added on that the "positive energy" was one of the driving forces behind the win tonight, including the efforts both on the court and off the court. "Our morale was very high today," he said simply, with a pleased grin.
The boys' next game will take place against Rockville away from home on Monday, at 3:30 p.m.
Merlyn Deng. Merlyn (Mer - LEEN) has an unhealthy fixation on Silver Chips Online, the Silver Chips Manifesto, red pens and serial commas. When not editing stories and racking her brain for SCO and its readers, she may be found haunting Blair's hallways or downtown Silver Spring. … More »