Boys' volleyball seeded third after 10-2 season
MAY 4, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
After running a spectacular nine-game win streak, the boys' volleyball team returned home for it's last game of the season eager to score one last victory against the Sherwood Warriors. Unfortunately for the Blazers, however, the team had played an exhausting five-set match against Kennedy just the night before and had not quite recovered its strength. Despite putting up a good fight, the Blazers narrowly missed out on the victory, falling 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25 and 11-15 to the Warriors in yet another intense five-set game and ending their season with a strong 10-2 record.
Blair and Sherwood began the night on nearly equal footing, with neither team able to keep possession for more than one or two points. The Blazers ultimately came out ahead with 10 kills and 3 aces, but Sherwood's excellent defense blocked and dug up many more of Blair's hits, sending ball after ball back to Blair's side of the court and establishing the pattern of intense, seemingly-endless rallies that would persist through the next four matches.
This trend became more apparent in the second match, as a combination of Blair mistakes and increased Sherwood focus nearly allowed the Warriors to take the match. Though the Blazers killed an impressive 11 hits, the Warriors countered with an equally respectable eight kills of their own, scoring an additional eight points off Blair's six missed hits and two missed serves. The Blazers were clearly more flexible and communicative than Sherwood, however, and its defensive players' determination to keep free balls and tips off the floor allowed the team to take a strong 20-15 lead that Sherwood simply could not overcome.
The third set began much like the first two had, but Blair's players began showing signs of exhaustion as the game progressed, allowing Sherwood to go on a four-point run and a five-point run which raised quickly upped the score to 11-18. Increased resistance from Sherwood's block allowed only six kills to hit the Warriors' side of the court while a large number of hits were sent back to the Blazers, who tried hard to pick up each play but could not always reach the ball in time. Though the Blazers fought back with a seven-point run that included two aces by junior James Lee, the Warriors capitalized on a weakening Blazer defense to score seven kills of its own, narrowly winning the match after the Blazers blocked a Sherwood hit straight down to its own side of the court.
Match four found Blair eager to recoup its third-set loss, but the Blazers' energy was clearly waning as a result of the long, hard-fought rallies. Sherwood began the game with a 6-1 lead, repeatedly rejecting Blair's attacks and taking advantage of overpasses that resulted from Blair's tired defense; though Blair countered with a four-point run of its own, the Blazers found it difficult to cover their hitters and sent a surprisingly-high 13 balls into the net or out of bounds. Though Blair's hitters countered with 11 kills, including several well-placed free balls, its early score deficit proved insurmountable, and Sherwood was able to score a narrow victory once more.
Visibly shaken by the two close defeats, the Blazers made an effort to come back in the final match of the night, but found themselves plagued by the same problems that had occurred in the first four rounds. Lee led the Blazers with six of its nine kills, but the Blazers also sent five balls into the net or out of bounds. Senior Sam Wen, junior Paul Wong and freshman Jay Chang all played strong defensive games, but the Blazers still had trouble picking up its own blocked hits and shanked several passes.
As rally after rally dragged on, the Blazers seemed more and more worn out as they slid and dived across the court, trying to pick up each pass but finding it increasingly difficult to do so each time Sherwood attacked. Sherwood scored several three-point runs, and though the Blazers fought back as valiantly as they could, Blair ultimately found itself down 14-9; two consecutive kills by James brought a glimmer of hope back to the Blazers, but a strong Sherwood kill ended Blair's attempt to even out the score and sealed Blair's first loss since its second game.
Though obviously disappointed by the close loss, Coach JJ Rathnam says that he is still pleased with his team's performance. "We've done real well this season," he explained afterward. "We tied the best record that Blair's ever had while I've been coach, 10-2, and we're going to be in the top seven seeds for playoffs."
Blair is in fact the third seed in its division, and the team will be hosting its first playoff game against Whitman at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 6.
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 »