Blazers play one of the closest matches of season
APRIL 24, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM–
After enjoying a string of easy victories since the Sherwood game, the Blair boys had a real challenge today against the Seneca Valley Eagles. Despite the strong competition on the other side of the net, the boys managed to overcome the Eagles in four nail-biting sets, 23-25, 25-23, 26-24 and 25-18.
Minutes into the first set, it was clear that the boys would not be able to cruise to victory as they had done in previous games. The boys brought out their fiercest game today from the very beginning of the first set, something that they usually can't do until well into the game. Many of the boys opted for high-risk jump serves that they normally save for later sets. These serves, although powerful, are easy to hit out and contributed to both points won and lost. But their decision reflects the game itself; Seneca Valley was a high-risk team that brought energy to the court with steel wall blocks and consistent hits.
After a series of failed efforts that left the ball just outside of the in-line or smack into the net, the boys trailed the Eagles at 9-17. A brief timeout later, the boys seemed to regain some of their original confidence, and junior Max Wolf had his first kill of the game, which was quickly followed by senior Adrian Cretzu's first ace. After a quick kill by junior co-captain Jay Chang, it seemed that their wasted attempts were of no use with the score standing at 13-20. Then, junior Allen Zhang took his position at the back of the court to serve. Zhang stepped up with five consecutive serves and jump serves that allowed the boys to make up the deficit by five points, leaving them at 18-20. Despite their great show of teamwork and good hustling, the Eagles managed to fly away with a 25-23 win.
The second set of the game started out well enough, with the boys leading at 6-2. With a kill by junior Tim He and other players, as well as killers by the Eagles, both sides of the court seemed paralyzed by the high-energy that pulsed through the gym. Chang rose up for a strong block that that made the score 10-5. After that the boys seemed to lose some of their dominance as the score evened out, but Chang's signature kill finished the set, 25-23.
After the high-spirited win that left the game 1-1, Wolf opened up the third set with yet another kill. The well-matched teams were forced to fight for every single point. Both sides relied on strong kills that showcased the strong skills on both teams. In the end, it was the little things that mattered most: a tip here, a block there. These little things backed up what the powerful hits and simple teamwork wasn't enough for, allowing the boys to creep past Seneca Valley. It ended when Cretzu slammed the ball in a kill onto the other side of the net, 26-24.
The fourth match of the night emitted the same energy evident in the previously tense games, especially with a possible win just minutes from their grasp. Thanks to He's well-placed tips and Chang's kills, the boys found themselves at 9-5. Despite evidently strong plays, the boys found themselves once more a hair ahead of Seneca Valley at 13-12. But the boys stepped up the game once more, putting together an impressive momentum that helped them speed past the Eagles to secure a four-point lead at 20-15. While Eagles certainly fought hard for a comeback, with more steel wall blocks and hits, their game was riddled by anxious errors that eventually caused them to lose 25-18 after a player hit the ball out.
Chang commented that the close scores and the initial loss were evidence for the lack of confidence the team had experienced throughout the game. "In the beginning, we were just not confident, but everyone on the team stepped up," he said.
Coach Sang Ahn attributed the close scores to simple mistakes. "The reason why the first three games were so close was because of careless errors, like serving the ball out," he said.
Although the boys did manage to lose a set for the first time in awhile, their comeback in the later sets makes it clear: they're ready for the playoffs.
Bruce Burris, the coach of Seneca Valley team, expressed his approval of witnessing such a close and well-fought game today. "I thought [the game] was very high-level volleyball; and it shows where volleyball can go," he said. According to Burris, the game today showed that the both of the boys' teams had a fun, exciting and fast-paced experience.
The boys' next game is against Springbrook, on April 27, away from home.
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 »