Boys volleyball: Matadors defeat Willow Glen HS in CCS quarterfinals

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Malini Ramaiyer


Photos by Aditya Pimplaskar and Christine Liang.

It all came down to the math. The team with a league record of 11-1 played against the team with a record of 6-4. One was seeded at three and the other at six — the numbers told the story.

These numbers dictated that MVHS would win the CCS quarterfinal match against Willow Glen High School on May 14. They won in straight sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-23) despite going from a lead of 10 points in the first set to two in the third set.

Playing the match without head coach Paul Chiu, the Matadors had assistant coach Glen Chew take over for the night. Chiu had to miss the game to attend his daughter’s graduation. Despite the coaching change, the team was not rattled in this quarterfinals match and went to work against the Rams.

“It’s more about practice where the coach makes a bigger impact,” junior Eric Zhang said. “But, Coach Glen [is] a really capable coach also — he’s coached JV also so he’s got a lot of experience.”

With a scrappy defense, the Matadors were able to pick up hard hits from the Rams’ especially strong middle. In return, they generated an offense strong enough to pull the Matadors way ahead in the first two sets.

“They’re a team that centers on their middle and blockers and because of this, their passing isn’t very good,” junior Alex Li said. “So it was easy for us to attack that part of their game and win from there.”

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Junior Alex Li makes a back row attack in the third set. It was crucial that the Matadors served consistently as the last set went point for point, ending 25-23. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

Getting kill after kill and listening to the crowd go wild play after play, they Matadors became a little confident. The team knew they were killing it so the players relaxed, losing their grip of the match in the third set.

The Matadors started the third set off shaky, giving up a four point lead, allowing the Rams, on a top-spin serving streak, to tie the game. Quickly regaining composure, MVHS pulled ahead once again, this time leading by three points. The Rams’ hopes looked bleak.

“As much as we picked up our game, they also picked up their game,” sophomore Prathik Rao said. “The last set was a good representation of them, but as well of us, so that’s why it was close.”

With two points necessary to win the match, the Matadors found themselves up 23-19, a comfortable four point margin. However, the Rams, eager to make a comeback, did not back down, putting up strong blocks especially against middle senior Yining Pan.

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In the second set, junior Eric Zhang sets opposite. Zhang’s consistent setting and hitting contributed to their 25-18 win in the second set. Photo by Aditya Pimplaskar.

The Matadors found themselves in a tough spot, as the Rams cut the lead to one point, not allowing MVHS to score. However, on this game point, Li went up for a back row kill and the crowd expected his kill to end the set. The Rams picked up the down and tipped on MVHS but senior Jeremy Wang, as he had frequently done throughout the match, blocked the ball and MVHS won the third set 25-23 and the whole match 3-0.

Even though the end came down to two points, it was the numbers, statistics and record that promised the Matadors’ success. The number game often played fair for the Matadors and the team will move on to the semi-finals match against Los Gatos High School — the one team that they lost to in their league.

“We’re just going to look forward to Friday’s practice first,” Chew said. “Get that one done and then Saturday morning, off to the next round of CCS.”

The Matadors will play the CCS semifinal game against Los Gatos High School on Saturday, May 16 at 12:30 p.m. at Independence High School.