Springbrook puts out Blazers' fire

May 12, 2003, midnight | By Sherri Geng | 17 years, 8 months ago

Boys' volleyball knocked out of running for division champion title


A depleted boys' varsity volleyball team ended a promising five-game winning streak with a 1-2 loss to Springbrook High School in their last home game of the season. Facing the Blue Devils in their biggest division match of the year, an undersized Blair team struggled with mental errors and unfamiliar rotations to fall in three games of 15-8, 8-15 and 4-15.

Despite missing key sophomore starters, hitter James Lee, setter Paul Wong, and opposite Randy Li, Blair rolled into the first game with consistent focus and watertight passing. "We didn't make any mistakes," said Coach JJ Rathnam. "We passed well, served tough, and were fast on defense... We found open spots on the other team's court and had all the momentum on our side."

Disappointingly, Blair lost much of this momentum by the second and third games, yielding easy points to Springbrook that eventually mounted to an unfortunate defeat. "The passing started deteriorating once Springbrook got some confidence, and they were able to counteract a lot of our offense with just good defense," Rathnam explained. "We hadn't really played a team that big this year so we got kind of rattled."

The absence of several key players also caused Rathnam to shuffle the team's usual rotations, knocking the team off-kilter as they faced off against a much larger Springbrook squad. "Without [Lee] there, we were down our biggest hitter on the outsider," he said. "Not having Randy Li or Paul Wong just hurt us even more."

With the division champion title dangling over their heads, the Blazers' frayed nerves gave way to increased pressure and the team slipped frequently on mental missteps and error-laden plays. "I think we had a decent chance; we just made too many mistakes," said senior co-captain Dan Ku. "With our whole team there, we could have won."

Nonetheless, Rathnam was impressed by the Blazers' devotion and development. "I have no complains with their level of commitment," he remarked. "They were very committed, and they worked really hard in practice."

The team put in intense practices to prepare for the playoffs, after capping a sluggish victory over Einstein High School. "We did drills just to keep up our agility so we'd be quick and get to the ball," said sophomore defensive specialist Kevin Kahn.

According to Rathnam, the loss of several key seniors will be "a big deficit that we're going to have to overcome." He added, "The leadership that Dan and Kevin [Fang] provided is really going to be missed."

Caught amidst a season dedicated to reconstruction, the Blazers are seeking to hone their skills for the upcoming year. "Next year's team is going to be awesome," said Ku. "Everyone worked hard this year. I think we have a very bright future ahead of us."

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