Blazers defeat Magruder despite incomplete starting lineup
APRIL 21, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM—
Just two days after defeating Quince Orchard, the boys' volleyball team returned to the court determined to add a fifth victory to its impressive four-game win streak. Despite the absence of two starting players, the Blazers scored an easy win over Magruder in just three sets, defeating the Colonels 25-13, 25-13 and 25-18 and raising their record to 6-1.
The Blazers began the game with several missing players, including starting senior James Gao and starting junior Randy Li, both of whom were absent due to scheduling conflicts. Senior Terry Li, Randy Li's regular substitute, was also unable to play due to a broken wrist. As a result of these absences, Blair was forced to modify its starting lineup, replacing Gao and Li with juniors Peter Bullen and Jansen Sheng, both of whom have seen relatively little game time so far this season.
Even with such a hastily rearranged lineup, the Blazers still managed to stay a step above the Colonels thanks largely to a defensive squad whose solid coverage and quick reflexes provided a solid foundation for Blair's offense plays. "Our passing was really good," junior Paul Wong explained. "The blocking was a little off, but the defense has gotten a lot better." Though the defensive wings still had a bit of trouble covering their lines, and the middle-back defender lost several points on deep free-balls, Wong and senior Sam Wen were able to keep all but a dozen balls from hitting Blair's side of the court throughout all three matches.
Offensively, Blair scored a solid 28 kills and 15 aces through all three matches. Junior outside hitter James Lee led the team with 12 kills, but nearly half of those kills succeeded because of the Colonels' inconsistent defense instead of true attacking power. While Bullen and Sheng also enjoyed moderate success, Wong gave the most outstanding performance of the night by far, scoring 9 strong kills and three aces while sending many more well-placed hits and tips deep into Colonel territory.
Despite the impressive stats, however, the Blazers' offense was clearly not playing at top form. Though the team successfully ran several new fake-out plays and improved its backrow attacks, it also sent 11 hits into the net and saw several more slammed back down into the court due to uneven block coverage. "The timing was off, and the hitters and setter weren't connecting," Wong explained. "We just weren't getting the kills against them that we should've gotten."
Lee too expressed disappointment at the team's weakened offensive presence, but he also added that he believes the Blazers will be able to refocus their energy in time for their May 4 game against Sherwood, which is likely to be its toughest remaining match. "After a respite of less than challenging competition," Lee said, "I hope we'll be able to step up our game and perform to our capabilities as we finish up our season."
The Blazers' next game will be hosted by Wheaton at 4:30 p.m. on April 23.
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 »