Volleyball: Matadors come back from two sets down to win on senior night

Cynthia Mao

Improved blocking and tightened play allow team to overcome initial deficit.

Digging themselves out of a two-set hole, the boys volleyball team managed to win three sets in a row to defeat the visiting Los Gatos High School at their last home game on May 1.

The night started with ceremony, as each senior received signed team pictures as well as bouquets of flowers. They then walked to the center of the court while an announcer listed their accomplishments in volleyball and recited the words of wisdom each player wanted to instill in their underclassmen.

“It’s an important senior class,” head coach Paul Chiu said. “They’ve put Monta Vista volleyball on the map and they’re kind of the reason for our success. They’ve had an unbelievable four years. As JV players they won league championships two times and now as varsity players we’ve had our two most successful varsity seasons in Monta Vista history. It’s a great senior class and I’m glad we’re able to send them off this way.”

The game started on shaky ground, something that would become a trend for the rest of the first half of the game. Senior Derrick Chiu began with a fault, but redeemed himself on the next play with a spike. LGHS pulled ahead, however, and a three-point run made the score 6-3 in their favor. Bad blocking marked the first half of the game, as the Matadors were consistently tooled.

Position changes also may have played a factor in their early struggles, as senior Ryan Louie played out of his normal role as libero, and Derrick Chiu often played as setter.

Although crowning moments included Derrick Chiu assisting senior James Whall for a kill and subsequently serving an ace, the Matadors remained behind around three to four points for most of the first half of the set, before LGHS pulled ahead, reaching a lead as high as 19-11. The set ended in a 25-18 loss.

“We came out really weak,” Derrick Chiu said. “First two sets, we missed eight to 10 serves … we basically gave them all their points in the first two games.”

The second set began in even worse, as MVHS faulted on two serves in a row. Highlights included Derrick Chiu, junior Ryan Manley and junior Ryan Bishop all scoring on kills, but a trend of missed serves led to a LGHS lead of of 15-22. Although the Matadors were able to stop the Wildcats’ momentum off of a long rally and slightly close the gap, the set ended with a loss of 25-20.

According to Derrick Chiu, the team blocked poorly in the first two sets.

“We got tooled a lot,” he said. “I guess in the third, fourth and fifth sets, we cleaned it up, focused more, pressed. We made solid blocks and shut them down on offense.”

The third set, which ended 25-16, changed the momentum of the game. The Matadors started strong with a 3-1 lead. The defining play of the set happened early, with Manley serving an ace and senior Cory Low subsequently killing the ball to make the score 6-2. Improved blocking set the tone for the game, and the lead stayed consistent until the Matadors went on a 3-0 run, bringing their lead to 11-4. Midway through the set, MVHS was already leading 16-8, and their lead went as high as 22-12

The fourth set began with close scores. Strong kills by Low and Chiu earned MVHS a few more points, and the team continued to pull ahead after four straight aces off serves by senior Atharva Fulay. MVHS won the set 25-23.

MVHS started off by leading the final set 8-4 but LGHS caught up, tipping the scores 9-10. Still, the Matadors managed to pull off a win, ending the set 15-11 and the game 3 sets to 2.

Paul Chiu believes that the team may have found a winning combination during their final sets.

“I think we may have found a lineup combination in the third, fourth, and fifth sets of this match, but we’ll see,” he said. “We still have a lot of volleyball to play. We have CCS coming up, and we’re hoping to go deep.”