Blair outdoes Churchill in three close sets
NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM, April 24 -
Despite the absence of five players, the boys' varsity volleyball team (7-1) was able to send the Churchill Bulldogs (2-7) to the dog pound. The Blazers did not play their best but won in straight sets, 25-18, 25-15 and 25-22.
Early on the Blazers struggled to lead, although they quickly recovered from their deficit with a streak of intensity that held through the first two sets. Even though Blair captured the last game, the Bulldogs gave the Blazers a run for their money by capitalizing on holes in the Blazers' defense and Blazer mistakes near the end. Despite these errors, strong teamwork and serving allowed Blair to walk away with another victory.
Blair kept its lead throughout the entire third set, yet began to slip up near the finish, resulting in a win too close for the boys' comfort. By hitting and serving out, the Blazers allowed the Bulldogs to go on a seven-point run, which potentially could have cost the Blazers their win. However, senior outside hitter Bryan Huang was able to seal the deal with a kill that ended the match, 25-22.
The shock of the night came from senior outside hitter Pan Wang's ankle injury early in the second set. Despite the loss of the starter Wang and an already thin rotation due to absent players, the boys were able to shake off their concerns to soundly dominate the Bulldogs. With the help of senior co-captain Willy Li's powerful serves and senior Nick Vujcic's formidable kills, Blair put 11 straight points on the board. While the Blazers quickly took over during the set, Churchill's solid passing and strategic tips down the ten-foot line shook up the Blazer's defense. However, after finding their groove, the Blazers defeated the Bulldogs 25-15 in their best set of the night.
Junior middle hitter Sina Shahamatdar, who was key to the Blazer defense, believed that the team's strong finish in the second set was due to the players' abilities to overcome the loss of Wang during the second set. "We did well despite Pan's injury," he said. "I think it actually pulled us closer as a team."
Unlike the second set, the Blazers were not able to decisively control the Bulldogs in the first. Although Blair's offense was much stronger than Churchill's, Churchill's defense was able to effectively cover the Blazers' constant attacks. The Bulldogs were able to defend the smashes of Wang and Vujcic, as well as freshman Andy Zhang's and senior Huang's consistent serves. Though their defense was a match to Blair's defense, the Bulldogs' weaker offense cost them numerous opportunities to score, allowing the Blazers to slide past with a 25-18 finish.
Head coach Chris Liang was proud of his team's resilience. "It went well considering the fact that we were missing a lot of players and Pan got hurt," he said. However, he believed the Blazers needed to pick up on their passing in future games.
Junior co-captain Pin-Joe Ko noted the Blazers' strengths and applauded the ways they were able to overcome their faults. "There was strong blocking overall. There were also a few tight spots, but we picked up our serving to rise above our mistakes," he said.
Senior co-captain Li agreed with his coach and co-captain's sentiments. "We fought all the way to the end, and even when we lost a few points in a row, we kept our spirits up," he said.
The Blazers' next home game is Friday, May 1 against Northwood at 5:15 p.m.
Sophia Deng. Sophia was the Managing Editor of SCO during the 2009-2010 school year. When not laughing or chilling to OWL CITY, Sophia can be found oil painting, playing volleyball, doing sudokus and sprinkling happy fairy dust over everyone. She loves folk/pop/electronica indie, Harry Potter, Burt's Bees … More »