GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Senior night thriller finishes with controversial call

Atharva Fulay

Slow start in fifth set leads to Titans victory

The Matadors had an emotional start in the Oct. 30 game against Gunn High School after speeches by non-senior players were delivered during the pre-game routine. During the game, junior Beverly Yu was dominant on the offensive end while sophomore Maria Balus had many timely blocks. Seniors Serena Chew and Allison Yu played scrappy defense as they passed and dove to cover their area of the court. The Matadors lost the game due to mistakes on offense and inconsistency. The game ended controversially as the teams and referees didn’t see eye to eye.  Much of the crowd yelled in disappointment as the referee gave GHS the final two points to secure the win as well as a higher rank in the league. Even with tough play, MVHS lost in five sets (24-26, 25-20, 22-25, 25-21, 11-15).

In the first set, MVHS started slowly with many unforced errors and defensive lapses. Missed serves were common throughout the night, and aces rarely occurred. But behind Beverly Yu’s service, they were able to grab a 10-5 lead. Tenacious defense from Chew, including a pancake — a rare play in which the defender is able to just keep the ball from touching the floor by sliding their hand under the ball — helped the Matadors maintain their lead.  MVHS kept up their efforts, forcing GHS to call both their timeouts at 22-17 and 22-18. The Titans cut into the lead and led to MVHS calling their timeouts at scores of 23-22 and 24-24. The Matadors lost the the set 24-26 as their energy level died down.

MVHS started quickly in the second set with strong serves and defense, 5-1. After a few controversial calls from the referee, including a call which contradicted the line judge’s decision, GHS caught up 5-4. Both communication errors and enforced errors led to a 9-11 score. Balus came up big with some blocks and defense at the net, giving MVHS the lead and forcing GHS to call a timeout. With the score at 22-17, head coach Colin Anderson was furious as he yelled at the referee and complained about no call on a violation at the net. Later, Beverly Yu got a clear hit and kill that landed in front of the defense which caused the players, bench and crowd to erupt. This momentum carried them to a 25-22 win, evening the set scores at 1-1.

“I like[d] this game, maybe because there was a big crowd,” Allison said. “But I felt like we had a lot more energy, which we have been lacking for a while.”

The third set was much tighter as the rallies began to get longer and the starters looked a little worn down. Balus went up to block and stuffed the GHS hitter twice to tie up the game at 9-9. Beverly Yu was the main option on offense, and GHS defense had a tough time passing her hits. The Matadors, however missed more serves and gave the momentum to the Titans. The referee made more controversial calls in the third set, which brought Anderson out of his seat again as floor captain Chew questioned the referee’s reasoning. She went back to Anderson shaking her head in frustration and disappointment.

The GHS offense executed a few more offensive plays before MVHS called a timeout , 16-19. The Matadors made a run and cut into the lead, forcing GHS to call a timeout at the score of 19-21. The two following plays were long rallies that each went on for well over 45 seconds. MVHS lost both plays and the set 22-25, set score of 1-2.

“I think we just got really fired up in realizing that  for the seniors,” Chew said. “This is our last game and that this is an important game for our standings in CCS since [GHS] is literally like under us … [we were] realizing that we really need this game.”

With the crowd cheering on the Matadors to make a comeback, the game on the court intensified. The Titans forced a few errors on the MVHS defensive end. Senior Vivian Duong led the team on a run from serves. Then Beverly mixed up the hits with tips, roll shots and tools — hits purposely hit on the opposing blocks so that the ball is blocked out of bounds, giving the hitting team the point. But missed serves put them in a hole again. Now down 8-11, the Matadors made a run and took the lead 15-14 by passing the balls and transitioning it to offense. Beverly took over on offense and forced GHS to call timeouts at 19-17 and 20-17. Tough serves from senior Emily Liu put away the fourth set 25-21.

After the teams switched sides, the Titans got off to a quick 3-0 start. The Matadors had a tough time passing their tips, and could not block their hits. After a long rally, the Matadors found themselves down 3-6. Beverly Yu and Liu brought the team back with offensive attacks and tough serves. MVHS caught up 7-7, and took the lead 8-7 with a block. GHS came out the next play and delivered a kill. Beverly Yu tipped the ball and gave MVHS for the last time. After two tips, miscommunication and a serve that dribbled over the net, the Titans took a 9-12 lead. MVHS caught up 11-12 through enforced errors by GHS. The next play, one Titan player hit a ball down the line and MVHS was unable to pass it, and called a timeout.

The next play, the referee made another controversial call of four touches. The ball was near the net and one of the MVHS players hit the ball low, and it hit the top of the net, and possibly a GHS player. The next play, the ball was close to the net again and both teams went up to block it, and it landed out of bounds on GHS’ side. The ref called the ball out of bounds on MVHS; Chew was clearly upset, but the referee called the game over before she could ask for an explanation. Chew unhappily walked off the court with the controversial end to her final home game. As of Nov. 6, the Matadors are now 14-15 overall and 3-11 in league games.

The Matadors’ qualified for CCS playoffs. Their game is at Santa Teresa High School on Nov. 7.