Boys' volleyball wins match in three games
MARCH 30, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM
After a victory against Damascus last Tuesday, the boys' volleyball team overcame the Kennedy Cavaliers in three sets, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-21, improving their season record to 4-1. Although both teams made technical errors, Blair still emerged victorious from the match. The Blazers faced Kennedy last year in a close semifinal match and was expecting an equally challenging game from this year's team.
The evening began with a Blazer lead, as Kennedy turned over the ball with the first serve. Blair answered with four straight points served by senior Adrian Cretzu. As soon as Kennedy regained possession at 7-3, junior co-captain Jay Chang had the first strong hit that pumped up the evening from its slow start. Blair and Kennedy exchanged possessions as uncontrolled serves and hits flew out. However, the Blazers maintained their initial lead with the occasional ace and strong hit. Junior Max Wolf was dominant at the net throughout the game, consistently blocking and covering the net. Cretzu's strategic tip enabled the Blazers to break into a 20-12 lead over Kennedy. Once the Blazers reached 20 points, freshman setter Willy Li began to position himself for a few strong hits and set up successful quick hits to junior Cal Burton. Wolf's tip and Li's serve decided the first game, 25-17.
In the second game, more unforced errors caused both teams to lose points. The front-row players were missing key hits because they were unprepared for Li's sets. Kennedy stepped up early in the game, capitalizing on a Blair turnover, due to a missed hit. A few Kennedy players began to improve and earn points from their offense, but junior Allen Zhang answered these attempts with decisive hits. The rest of the game followed this inconsistent pattern. The Blazers not only served and hit out, but also were unable to return a few of Kennedy's hits because of a lack of communication. Blair also lost points because the boys were not covering the corners of the court. Kennedy was occasionally able to use Blair's slips to their advantage and placed the ball at the weak spots. Nevertheless, Blair won the second game, 25-20, after Chang and Cretzu alternately smashed the ball and extinguished Kennedy's spark.
The beginning of the third game was marked by calls on technical errors for both teams. The tight team that the Blazers began with started to unwind. Li made many key points with his hits, consistently catching the Cavaliers by surprise and therefore keeping the tides in Blair's favor. The hitters were still having difficulty completing their setup for hits, awkwardly scrambling after the ball when it was already past their heads. Blair's communication was falling apart. Kennedy took its first lead in the game at 8-9, but lost it because of uncontrolled serves. The Blazers' momentum diminished because of their wild hits and serves, but the ignition key to the boys' momentum was turned with Wolf's strong quick hit set up by Li. A continuous exchange of points was buffeted back and forth until Blair pulled ahead from a 19-19 tie. Energized by Zhang's tips that denied Kennedy' offense, the Blazers drove home to a strong finish. Due to Kennedy's errors, Cretzu's clean kill, and Burton's unreturned serve, the Blazers forged ahead at 24-21, concluding the match with a win after Kennedy's missed serve.
Coach Sang Ahn was pleased by Blair's performance in the game against Kennedy, although he pointed out that the team still needs to develop further. "I think we played a really good game. We need to improve on communication, which is hard for guys, and unforced errors, like serves and hitting out."
Chang agreed, adding, "We played aggressively and very well."
Kennedy coach Wanda Hsuing, also the mother of '04 graduate Amanda Hsuing who was captain of Blair's girls' and coed volleyball teams, was optimistic about her team's efforts. "We were missing some people yesterday during practice. The line-up was pretty fluid, and, all things considered, we played very well today. Blair is a hard team to play."
The boys' volleyball team next plays at Northwood on Tuesday at 5:15 p.m.
Payal Patnaik. Payal's bad habits include compulsive apologizing, and....sorry. More »