Volleyball finishes Blue Devils in straight sets
MAR. 21, NELSON H. KOBREN GYMNASIUM-
Blair coed volleyball began the seasonal campaign on a high note, soundly defeating the Springbrook Blue Devils in three games, 25-8, 25-17 and 25-8 on Wednesday night. In their first game action of the season, the Blazers looked sharp against an inexperienced Springbrook squad, dominating the net game and easily finding holes in the defense. Despite a scoring mix-up in the second set that erased three Blair points off the scoreboard, coed volleyball cruised to their first win of the year, a feat that took five games a year ago when the Blazers finished with a disappointing 2-11."Everything went well," said first-year head coach Greg Franklin. "As a coach, I can't ask for more."
The Blazers started the match strong in the first game, scoring the first four points of the game. The game remained competitive, but Blair quickly began displaying their prowess. With senior co-captain Tim Lee serves, the Blazers scored four straight off back-to-back aces from Lee and strong plays from senior Wendolyn Quintanilla, giving them a 13-3 lead. This deficit proved too much for Springbrook, as strong serving and net play enabled Blair to cruise to a 25-8 win.
The second and most competitive set of the match was marked by the controversy over a scoring error. With Blair leading 7-6 after numerous heated back-and-forth rallies, a sideout timeout was called. Coming out of the timeout, Blair mistakenly rotated because of an error at the scoring table while Springbrook did not.
The Blazers proceeded to score three easy points, but the game was then stopped as the officials and the coaches conferred over the apparent mix-up. Although Blair was not at fault, the final ruling was to reset the score to its pre-timeout amount, dropping the Blazers' lead from 10-6 to 7-6. Ordinarily points would not be taken off the board, according to Franklin, but it was inconsequential. As the undaunted Blazers continued their strong play, they regained momentum with back-to-back spikes from Lee and Burton, followed by an ace by junior co-captain Julie Brice.Springbrook attempted to mount a comeback, trying to capitalize on Blair's waning concentration as the scoring gap grew, but it was quickly quelled. A resounding kill from Burton ended the second game at 25-17, another set for Blair.
With the match all but locked up save for a miraculous comeback, the Blazers began the third game lethargically, allowing Springbrook to take an early 3-1 lead before rallying. Strong service from junior Olivia Bozik helped close out the Blue Devils, igniting a 13-1 Blazer run. The disheartened Blue Devils offered little resistance as Blair scored the last seven points of the match with senior Neil Mendhiratta serving, who showcased an impressive jump serve.
One of Blair had a distinct height advantage over Springbrook. This was especially valuable at the net, where Burton, who Franklin called the "star" of the game, as well as colossal senior Jung Han were able to dominate the action with numerous kills over their shorter Springbrook counterparts. Second-year Springbrook coach Leslie Brew acknowledged the disparity as well. According to Brew, one of their tallest players, Grace French, has been sidelined by an ankle injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage. "It's been hard on us," she said, "but we have to work around it."
Brew was satisfied with her team's efforts, despite the loss. After struggling in the first game, "we picked it up the second game," she said, "but had an emotional letdown in the third." She was especially pleased with the vastly improved communications on an inexperienced squad. "It was a hundred times better than our first practice," she said. Brew was impressed with Blair's play, especially their in-game adjustments. "They did a great job," she said. "[Blair volleyball] has always been really good."Despite this tremendous showing, Franklin hopes for further improvement. The team looks to continue working on their defense in particular, as well as their serving and communication. "We let too many balls hit the floor," he said.
Lee echoed Franklin's optimism as well as his desire for improvement. "I think we did well," he said. "We got to see how the team blended together [in their first formal game]." Lee too cited defense as a focal point for practice. With a match-up against perennial powerhouse Churchill on tap for this Friday, both coach and captain hope to build off this strong showing and continue to display impressive passing and serving.
"We're going to stick to our game plan," said Lee. "Hopefully, we'll have a good game."
Coed volleyball's next game is at Churchill on Mar. 23
Andrew Kung. Andrew Kung is a rising Magnet junior who is psyched for a year of Chips Online. He has lived in New York, Michigan, and New Mexico prior to his current residence in Maryland. As a cynical sports fan, he is not often disappointed, but not … More »