Boys' defeat Wootton in spirited three-match game
APR. 1, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
Blair's varsity boys' volleyball team scored a clean 3-0 victory over the Wootton Patriot's in their first home game of the season, bolstering their seasonal record to 3-1. The Blazers began the night with a shaky 28-26 victory, then pulled together and played a cohesive and powerful game, ending the night with two easy 25-11 and 25-10 victories.
The Blazers began the night with a rocky start, struggling to maintain focus and communicate on the court. Junior James Lee and Paul Wong and senior Bailey Zhang all scored solid kills, but sub-par defense and poor communication cost Blair several unsuccessful plays and quite a few dropped balls. A string of netted serves and several badly-timed hits allowed Wootton to pull far ahead of the Blazers, and even clean kills from Lee and senior James Gao could not prevent Blair from racking up a 13-23 deficit by the middle of the match.
With defeat on the horizon, the Blazers finally pulled together, regaining the serve with a solid kill by junior Randy Li, then went on to rack up 11 consecutive points to take the lead. Randy Li served four consecutive aces and scored two kills, while Gao and senior setter Tim Yang also helped overwhelm the Patriots' defense with powerful spikes and several quick tips. Senior Sam Wen and juniors Kevin Kahn and Paul Wong, meanwhile, helped hold together Blair's defense with quick reflexes and steady passing.
Though Wootton evened the score to 24-24 with a powerful kill off a Blair overpass, Gao scored a quick hit on the next serve to regain Blair's lead. A setter's lift and a blocked overpass gave Wootton the edge once more, forcing Blair to rethink its strategy. Coach J.J. Rathnam called a time-out and instructed Yang to set all passes to Lee, ignoring the middle and weak side hitters. Though drastic, the emergency strategy worked well: Lee slammed three consecutive kills past the Patriots' defense, ending the match with a 28-26 Blair victory.
The Blazers cleaned up their mistakes in the second game, giving up far fewer points on errors and scoring a much easier victory. Wong in particular shone with a combination of versatile defense and hard hitting, while Gao and Yang capitalized on several Wootton overpasses to give Blair a consistent lead. The Patriots themselves gave up a number of points due to missed serves and poor communication, allowing three free balls to drop to the court without any attempts to save them. A missed Wootton serve and a deep tip by Yang gave Blair a 25-11 victory, ending the match in barely 25 minutes.
The third match proceeded much as the second had, with Blair's consistent kills and solid defense giving it a strong lead over Wootton from the start. Junior Jansen Sheng and senior Terry Li both scored several points off strong hits, and Blair's winning streak continued even after Rathnam subbed out the entire starting lineup, placing defensive players in the front row and even allowing Wen to replace Yang as setter. Wootton managed to score a few points off Blair errors, but Terry Li quickly ended their hopes of a comeback with four consecutive aces, concluding the match with a final score of 25-10.
According to Lee, the game progressed "in the classic Blair style. We started slow but gradually picked up and then soundly trounced them." While Lee expressed happiness at the Blazers' victory, he also noted that the Blazers will have to improve their communication on the court in order to continue its winning streak. "We need to work on communication and unity," he explained. "Inevitably, one of us will screw up, but that doesn't mean the team as a whole should mess up."
The Blazers' next game will occur at 6:00 p.m. on Apr. 14 at Seneca Valley.
Kristina Yang. Kristina Yang is 1/10 of the Blair girls' volleyball team. When not on the court, she most likely to be running away from Magnet math homework, trying to pay off her three speeding/redlight tickets, or feeding her bubble tea addiction. She would also like to ... More »