Blazers blast Paint Branch Panthers

April 25, 2003, midnight | By Sherri Geng | 17 years, 9 months ago

Boys' volleyball overthrows Panthers, 2-1


The boys' varsity volleyball team capped a close victory over Paint Branch High School on Fri, defeating the solid Panthers in three intense games 16-14, 14-16, and 15-12. The match was highlighted by several amazing Blair comebacks, testaments to the team's mettle and resolve. The team rounded out its record at 6-3.

The Blazers stumbled into the first game with a number of clumsy missteps, trailing the Panthers at a disappointing four-point deficit. A kill by junior middle hitter James Gao finally gave Blair the side-out they needed, but a fierce battle quickly ensued with both sides vying to secure serve possession. Lobbing several shots out-of-bounds and landing spikes and blocks into the net, the Blazers slipped behind to spot the Panthers a 4-12 lead.

Desperate, the Blazers launched into an aggressive offensive strategy, resorting to their middles. They staged an 8-1 comeback, closing the gap at 12-13 with two consecutive kills by senior Jeffrey Jabonete and sophomore Randy Li.

A rattled Paint Branch team struggled to hang onto their lead, but the Blazers locked the Panthers in a tight stalemate. Kills from Jabonete and junior Terry Li leveled the score to 14-14, and Paint Branch yielded two points later with Blair pulling a 16-14 victory.

The team's momentum carried them to a quick 3-0 start in the beginning of the second game, but the Panthers evened the score by staging a fleeting run to lead at 6-4. The Blazers upped their offense, scoring seven points to the Panthers' three, gripping onto an 11-9 lead.

After yielding four straight points to 12-14, Blair managed to match the Panthers at game point with two kills from Gao and senior co-captain hitter Daniel Ku, but eventually gave way, losing at a heartbreaking 14-16.

Blair returned in the third and final game with gritty determination, pulling back after losing seven points straight and scoring none of their own. From 0-7, the Blazers blasted the Panthers with a 9-2 comeback to 9-9, with the help of kills from their middle hitters and several impressive saves by senior defensive specialist Stephen Lin.

After falling behind again at 10-12, Blair pulled a straight five-point run marked with kills from Randy Li and Jabonete, barreling through a frustrated pack of Panthers with a 15-12 victory.

The match reflected a season of steep and rocky development, showcasing the Blazers' strong offense and solid passing. "Their passing was great, the best it's been all year," said Coach JJ Rathnam, who was delighted with the team's performance. "[It shows that] we can't ever give up. We've got to play hard all the way."

He believes that the team handled the pressure remarkably well. "They came back from zero," said Rathnam. "They buckled down and didn't give in."

Rathnam accredited players Gao and Jabonete with being "unstoppable" throughout the match, and is highly pleased with the entire team. "I'm happy with their effort, I'm happy with their concentration," he said. "I'm happy we never gave up."

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Sherri Geng. Sherri Geng is a senior in the Magnet and SUPER excited for what promises to be another excellent year of Silver Chips! She has insane love for chocolate, sleep, funny people, and her big fat lovable dog Teddy, who is the smartest and most perfect … More »

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