Despite moments of sloppiness, boys win 3-0
MAY 11, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM–
After advancing in the first round of the playoffs against #15 seed Damascus on Tuesday, the Blair boys' volleyball team faced the #10 seed Walter Johnson Wildcats today in a bout that left the boys victorious 3-0, with an excellent record of 25-14, 25-22 and 26-24.
The boys, who boast an almost perfect record of 12-1, started off the evening with a strong set that left the Wildcats defenseless. The usual starters of the game established a strong momentum that carried the team to another well-deserved victory in the first set. A lot of electricity permeated the air as the boys on both teams exchanged difficult hits in a high-strung first set. However, although both sides exhibited definite strength, the boys strong offense penetrated past Walter Johnson's weak blocks to up the score in Blair's favor. By 9-4, junior Tim He made an excellent kill that left the boys in a comfortable lead. Juniors Jay Chang, Max Wolf, Tim Lee, Allen Zhang and senior Adrian Cretzu contributed major points that gave the boys their 25-14 first set win.
Although the first set left the boys seemingly stable, the second and third sets of the game were certainly more flawed than the first set. Starting off at 7-5 with a slick bump from Zhang, the game seemed to almost fall afterwards. With bad bumps and mistakes marring their teamwork, the boys lost some of their dominance when the Wildcats snuck up behind them to make the score 18-16. During this set, the Wildcat boys showed some of the enthusiasm that had never appeared in the first set, which belied Walter Johnson's untapped power. However, the boys pulled through to even up the score as various players pulled out their signature strong kills. The set ended at 25-22, after both sides struggled to gain the upper hand.
After barely squeezing out with a win in the second set, the tables seemed to turn for the individual players. While the volley ball seemed to barely touch the boys' fingertips throughout the match, the individual performances of the boys were splotchy enough to leave the boys languishing 9-15. He, who had contributed many points in the previous sets, seemed fatigued as some of his old injuries and what he later cited as "internal pressure" affected his game. However, Chang, who had initially started off in previous sets with uncharacteristic outs, accomplished various kills to make the score 13-19. The rest of the boys helped catch up to even the score to 22-22 as they took advantage of the Wildcats' weak blocks. The boys were pulling all shots in the set to fend off of the repeatedly returned hits that resulted in lengthy volleys throughout the match. Eventually, however, the boys were granted a win after the Wildcats faltered at the last moment to end the game, 26-24.
Co-captain Chang pointed out that the team had suffered a few problems during the game, and had to overcome the obstacles in order to secure the important win. Chang explained that fellow player He was suffering from pressure as well as a minor injury; however, he said that He valiantly played it off as the rest of the team members maintained their usual game.
Junior co-captain Tim Lee, who had made spectacular dives in the match, also saw a slight slump in the second and third matches. "We started out with a lot of energy, but toward the third game we were losing momentum," he said.
Chang attributes the close scores in the second and third sets as a sign of the caliber of Walter Johnson's team. "It was a very challenging game," he said. "My team really stepped up to the plate. It was probably one of our most challenging games." He also said that the high-energy game left many of the boys tired.
Coach Sang Ahn also complimented the Wildcats' performance tonight. "They were a really good team for a 10th seed," he said. Chang agreed, saying that Walter Johnson's record certainly did not speak for their strength, especially since the Wildcat boys had to forfeit a few matches during the season due to too few players. Ahn also expressed some trepidation over the sloppiness that the boys' showed in the later two matches, and said that the boys will "hopefully clean [their game] up for next Tuesday" so that they may have a shot at the county championship again.
The boys will be playing the #3 seed, Rockville, next Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. at 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 »