Boys volleyball: Matadors lose CCS quarterfinals 3-1 against Homestead

Junior+Cory+Low+takes+a+powerful+swing+past+Homestead+blockers+as+teammates+seniors+Jeffrey+Zhang+and+Edward+Wang+look+on.+Though+the+Matadors+won+the+first+set%2C+they+lost+the+game+3-1.+Photo+by+Cynthia+Mao.
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Boys volleyball: Matadors lose CCS quarterfinals 3-1 against Homestead

Junior Cory Low takes a powerful swing past Homestead blockers as teammates seniors Jeffrey Zhang and Edward Wang look on. Though the Matadors won the first set, they lost the game 3-1. Photo by Cynthia Mao.

Junior Cory Low takes a powerful swing past Homestead blockers as teammates seniors Jeffrey Zhang and Edward Wang look on. Though the Matadors won the first set, they lost the game 3-1. Photo by Cynthia Mao.

Junior Cory Low takes a powerful swing past Homestead blockers as teammates seniors Jeffrey Zhang and Edward Wang look on. Though the Matadors won the first set, they lost the game 3-1. Photo by Cynthia Mao.

Junior Cory Low takes a powerful swing past Homestead blockers as teammates seniors Jeffrey Zhang and Edward Wang look on. Though the Matadors won the first set, they lost the game 3-1. Photo by Cynthia Mao.

Howard Lee

The crack of palm against ball echoed loudly in the gym, cutting through even the crowd’s chatter. With powerful hits like these, the Matadors hoped to defeat Homestead High School in a rematch, this time at the CCS quarterfinals on Thursday, May 10.

Despite strong plays, the Matadors lost three sets to one. After winning the first set, they were worn down by the re-energized Mustangs and lost the next three  by close margins.

The first set began with solid serves and tight teamwork from the Matadors. Taking advantage of the errors committed by the Homestead team, the Matadors gained momentum through powerful plays by senior Avery Hua, junior Derrick Chiu and sophomore Ryan Manley. Senior Edward Wang also contributed last minute digs to prevent Homestead from gaining the upper hand, giving the Matadors a 10-8 lead. The first set ended with the Matadors winning 28-26.

The Mustangs started the second set with a 5-1 lead. Despite that the Matadors, led by Manley and Chiu, pulled together to tie the score until MVHS led 12-11. However, the Mustangs regained their lead as they capitalized on a series of errors and outs by the Matadors. Combined efforts by Manley, Chiu and Hua, along with supporting plays by senior Brandon Tiongson and sophomore Kevin Szelong, led to a tense rally. It ended with a Matador miss, resulting in Homestead scoring a point. The set ended in a close loss of 29-31.

“[Between the first and second set], Homestead definitely pulled it together and we weren’t able to catch up as well,” Wang said. “We got discouraged … We just got down and didn’t have energy and that’s why we lost all those points.”

Junior Cory Low takes a powerful swing past Homestead blockers as teammates seniors Jeffrey Zhang and Edward Wang look on. Though the Matadors won the first set, they lost the game 3-1. Photo by Cynthia Mao.

The third set started strong for the Matadors — Hua began with a powerful serve and both Szelong and Manley played off a weak Homestead defense, securing an early lead. Chiu, junior Cory Low and senior Jeffrey Zhang maintained that lead through well-aimed kills, with the Matadors up 11-7. However, in the middle of the set, the Matadors were met with a string of errors and gave up the lead to the Mustangs with the score at 20-17. Even with efforts to catch up, the third set ended with a Mustang win of 24-18.

The Mustangs picked up with a 4-0 lead early in the fourth set, but Chiu and Hua attempted to keep the Matadors close with strong hits and serves. Multiple passing errors and outs by the Matadors, however, gave the Mustangs a 18-14 set lead.

“After we lost the second game, everyone just got really down on themselves,” Chiu said. “No one was cheering, the defense was quiet and when we scored a point, maybe one person was yelling … The fourth set, actually, we called a timeout and got ourselves back together.”

Following the timeout, the Matadors took advantage of their boosted morale, with Chiu and Manley scoring several kills.The set ended with a Matador loss after a block that could have led to a tie fell just a few inches short of the bounds in a tense last play.

Up in the air, junior Derrick chiu tips the ball over a homestead block. Though the team rallied back following a streak of misses, they were not able to overcome the Mustangs. Photo by Ashley Wu.

“It was a hard fought match,” head coach Paul Chiu said. “We didn’t get all the breaks. We could’ve use the breaks here and there, [like] that last block. A couple inches and the ball [would be] in to make it 24-24.”

Instead, the Matadors lost the fourth set 25-23. Part of the reason for this loss, Paul Chiu believes, was that the Mustangs’ whole team was present this time, including several key blockers that had not played at the last match. Yet he says he is not disappointed, noting that this season has been one of the best so far.

“We finished [the season] 29-4, so we’re super competitive,” Paul Chiu said. “We cracked California’s top 45, ranking sixth in the nation. The kids put the program in a pretty special category, and it’s all the returning players that keep it up there … We’ll be really competitive [next year] and frankly, I think we’ll come back as probably favorites.”

For seniors like Wang, the end of their last season has made them realize how close the team has gotten.

“We definitely have a chemistry that we can’t find anywhere else,” he said. “Everybody’s willing to talk with each other. You can always find something to talk about and cheer each other up and be supportive.”

On May 13 at 4:48, a correction was made to the caption of the second photo.

On May 16 at 10:05, a correction was made to the article.