The Blazers are able to wear out the Panthers in their four set victory
The Blair girls' varsity volleyball team (5-0) was able to subdue the Paint Branch Panthers (2-2) on Wednesday night. The Panthers proved tough with strong blocks coupled with aggressive strikes, but the Blazers kept their cool and were able to ultimately outplay their opponent by the score of 25-17, 18-25, 25-9, 25-20.
The first set kicked off the match with passion, as the two teams struggled to gain an advantage. The first half of the match was a showdown between the Blazer's offense and the Panther's defense; many of the Blazers' strikes were redirected straight onto the floor. Though the set stayed tied up for the first half, strong servicing by Freshman Ariel Zhang eventually brought Blair up 6 points and into the lead at 18-16. Freshman Maggie Wang was soon after able to break through Paint Branch's defense with carefully aimed strikes and tips, helping to bring the match to a close in Blair's favor.
The Panthers came back with a vengeance the second set, keeping a lead practically the whole while through. The blocking of Blair's offensive strikes persisted; worse still was the renewed attack patterns against Blair. The Panthers kept up a constant flow of spikes; those that broke through often did some serious damage. Digs secured from Senior Jade Liu and Freshman Ariel Zhang coupled with spikes by Freshmen Maggie Wang and Tiffany Mao kept Blair afloat during the match. Paint Branch's attacks proved too much though, and they eventually won the set.
The Panther's defense prompted Coach Christopher Klein to change up things offensively, in hopes of establishing a more viable strategy to beat them. "We started moving their defense around by tipping, and then varying it up. And that made their block hesitant and since their block became hesitant we started getting more open net to hit on"
The Blazers pulled out all the stops for the third set, bringing together dynamic attacks, consistent serves and a plethora of digs to deliver a crushing blow to the Panthers. The kind of digs seen in the previous set only increased in frequency, though this time a new offensive strategy made better use of them. Blair attacks featured tips and light spikes more often in anticipation of Paint Branch's defense. It helped give the Blazers the edge over their opponent, and ultimately resulted in this decisive victory.
The fourth and final set was the most intense, as it seemed to be anybody's game right up to the very end. The Blazers' continued their smart attack strategy but started suffering from Paint Branch's defense. The set dragged on for a while as both sides repeatedly secured digs and established attacks. Senior Jade Liu and Freshman Ariel Zhang once more proved their mettle with amazing digs, though they were joined by practically the rest of the team as the situation quickly became fast-paced and heated.
Consistency and cooperation kept the team in shape; they were able to keep up with Paint Branch's desperate attacks and push through their blocks, ending the match with a 5 point lead.
Liu pointed out how well the Blazers compensated during the match "Our first set we came out a little shaky because there was really nice blocking and really nice hitting and I think we targeted that, we worked with that to show their weaknesses, like not covering or getting the tips."
Coach Klein felt the victory was a great step forward for the season. "For us to beat them it was a good sign for us, it says to me that we can hang with any team in the county this season."
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