Boys volleyball: Team celebrates senior game with straight sets over Mountain View HS

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Malini Ramaiyer

You can tell that a team feels a little too comfortable during a match when they laugh at points they lose, cheer extra loudly for points they win and play their starting outside as setter.

The boys volleyball team made sure to have a little fun as they coasted through their senior game on April 29. The Matadors faced the Mountain View High School Spartans and won in straight sets (25-19, 25-22, 25-19). Despite winning by small margins, the Matadors played confidently throughout the match.

 

“Senior night, they tend to be more jovial and upbeat,” head coach Paul Chiu said. “They did a good job today in that regards. They have fun without goofing around.”

 

With a league record of 13-0, the team put together a tremendous effort this year, winning the league title and qualifying for CCS. So on their senior night, they took a little time to relax. Regardless, they started off strong with an ace by freshman Gautham Dasari. Dasari was the only non-senior to start on the court — Chiu made sure to play every senior for this game.

While unforced errors allowed the Spartans to remain within a couple of points, the Matadors’ solid offense and blocking propelled them forward. As Libero, senior Alvin Lui set up plays well with strong passing, and senior Eric Zhang directed the offense with his sets.  Kills from Li, a couple of which even landed before the ten foot line, riled up the team and the crowd.

“Eric likes to put the ball up high, Alex makes sure to put it to the floor. The other team can’t do anything about it,” senior Peter Kim said, after watching the game and cheering for the seniors. “It’s actually really fun to watch and I might be a sadist but I really like it when they miss the ball.”

The Spartans lacked the natural height and were sloppy with defense, so they couldn’t keep up with the MVHS drive. The first set finally ended 25-19 with a single-handed block by senior Ethan Kulla.

The second set was a little too close for comfort as the Spartans lost by a mere three point margin. After losing a set, the Spartans came out stronger and ready to win — their hits were more aggressive and down the line, making it harder for MVHS to pick up.

In this second set, the Matadors could no longer relax because the Spartans were quick to capitalize on every free ball sent over. A problem for the team the whole season has been coverage of the block and tip. This was an issue at the beginning of the second set as well, since the Spartans tried to get points with tricky net play. Toward the beginning, the score moved up point by point until the two teams were tied at 10, and the Matadors pulled ahead.

Winning was a matter of simply making less mistakes and the Matadors were able to do so. In addition to Li, Dasari, senior Nathan Mallipeddi and junior Yash Hedge’s hits were key in getting side outs for the team. And while the Spartans trailed close behind, MVHS was still having fun, laughing at their missed serves.  No matter what happened, they weren’t going to get down on themselves — it was senior night.

Although they made several errors, MVHS won the second set 25-22 with a missed serve from the Spartans.

“I’m preaching to the kids, ‘Take care of every point’,” Chiu said. “We got to be in the habit of doing that because that’s what we’re going to need in CCS.”

The third set started slow for MVHS’ and the Spartans were able to get a three point lead. Once again, the score moved up point by point and the Matadors closed the gap to tie the score at 10.

From there, MVHS minimized their errors and pulled ahead. Unforced errors have plagued the team throughout the season and they know that if they really focus on playing their best, they can propel forward. And that’s what happened — the Matadors cut their errors and gained a six point lead on the Spartans, taking the score to 18-13. That’s when Chiu decided to mix things up.  

“Once we built up that six point lead, we knew were going to win. Just a matter of time,” Chiu said.  “At the end, we had a little fun. We had [Li] set, my only regret is that we couldn’t get [Liu] to swing.”

Li set for a little bit until the team realized that he was better off hitting. The Spartans continued to make errors and the win wasn’t a hard fought one. The Matadors won the last point of the set and match with a double block on the Spartans’ opposite.

Even though they won their senior game, the Matadors know that they’ll have to focus for a little longer — with CCS and NorCals coming up, they’re not done yet.

“It feels really good but this senior class knows that the job’s not done,” Chiu said. “I really want to be able to celebrate on May 17 with them.”
The CCS Championships are on May 17 and the Matadors have high hopes. They know that they have to work on keeping their play consistent and minimizing errors. If they do that, they know they’ll be able to succeed.

“I think we’ll naturally be adapted to the CCS games,” Li said. “We expect a gold medal hanging around each and every one of our necks.”

“And a banner in the gym!” Zhang said, chiming in with Li.

MVHS will play Los Altos HS in the second round of CCS playoffs on May 12 at 6:45 p.m.

Reporting by Malini Ramaiyer,
Additional reporting by Om Khandekar and Chetana Ramaiyer
Featured image taken by Patrick Yeung