After pummeling Rockville, a shot to defend county title
MAY 16, NELSON H. KOBREN MEMORIAL GYMNASIUM–
The boys' volleyball team has done it once again. In slightly over an hour, the Blazers defeated the third-seeded Rockville Rams in a spectacular 3-0 win tonight. On Thursday, the boys will have a chance to defend the championship title they won last year against Sherwood.
The atmosphere in the gym was palpable with stress and excitement as the largest crowd of the season populated the risers to support the boys in their semifinals match. It would be tonight, also, that Blair once again showed their dominance on the volleyball court as they pitted every ounce of strength against Rockville. Tonight would also be the night that junior Tim He would shine for his team, a player who had suffered through various injuries and setbacks throughout the season.
Although the boys came away with a 3-0 win, the Blazers had to fight for every point throughout the sets. For half of the first set, the boys seemed disoriented as the Rams led by three points after four consecutive hits at 2-5. However, when the Rams' brief rally ended, strong teamwork developed over the season allowed the boys to eventually overcome the Rams. With senior Adrian Cretzu serving in the back, junior Max Wolf stepped up first to make a clean hit. And with junior co-captain Tim Lee successfully receiving the hits from the other side, junior Allen Zhang and Wolf could make tips from Willy Li's quick sets that would help push up the score. In the end, Rockville hit out for a final score of 25-19.
Going into the second game, Rockville's consistent hitters repeatedly made it difficult for the Blazers to advance. However, to match their strong hitters, Blair put up an equally powerful blockade that worked consistently throughout the match. Junior co-captain Jay Chang contributed multiple hits that pushed the boys in the lead, 10-6. Cretzu stepped up his game and contributed numerous hits and tips to make the score 23-19. The set, ending 25-21, finished on a somewhat anti-climatic note with a Rams player committing a touch penalty to end the set. Despite that, the end of the second set meant one thing: the Blazers were poised to snatch another win from the Rams' horns in the third and final set to advance to the championship round.
And everyone knew it, too. Fans on the side shouted, "Whose house?" Screams filled the gym as the boys began what would be their last set. Once more, the boys found themselves neck to neck with Rockville. Thanks to excellent reflexes and quick fingers, the boys managed to save various difficult volleys. Even so, the gymnasium seemed to sweat with anxiety as no clear dominating team appeared to surface.
But when Zhang made his way to the back of the court for his serving round, everything changed. Zhang dished up four successful jump serves that left the gymnasium resonating with screams. Even if the Rams managed to return Blair's serves, the Blazers' front line players helped secure a whopping six-point lead for Blair, 20-14. Even though the Rams managed to make up some of the point deficit, Blair's aggressiveness made sure that the Rams stood no chance. He (junior Tim He) smashed the ball into the other side of the net with a resounding smack to make the score 21-17. Each hit elicited hoarse screams from both sides of the court as the score crept closer to the 25 mark. But when the score was 24-22, all were silent. Yet, when the Rams' player overserved the ball, the gym erupted in pandemonium as the final set came to an end, 25-22.
The game, which many had expected to be a close five-set match, ended with an all-out domination of the third seed. "We didn't expect to win in three games," Chang said. "I think everyone just got hyped up and played really well today. We had strong digs, nice hits and a nice crowd to help."
Indeed, it was Blair's house tonight. Coach Sang Ahn complimented He's strong performance tonight and commended his team's efforts throughout the match despite the sometimes unsettling presence of a rambunctious and large crowd. "I think they were a little nervous because we have never had a crowd like this," he said. "I hope we can keep it up for Thursday, though."
The championship game against Sherwood Warriors, whom Blair lost to earlier in the season, will be held at Magruder High School at 7 p.m. this Thursday.
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 »
Payal Patnaik. Payal's bad habits include compulsive apologizing, and....sorry. More »