MVHS defeats Harker HS to secure their second straight NorCal Championship

Despite early struggles in the match, the Matadors prevail in their victory against Harker HS


Photo by Roshan Fernandez

Keshav Taneja, Staff Writer

This was a situation of unfamiliarity for the Matadors. After sweeping through the CCS playoffs, the NorCal quarter and semifinals — the Matadors found themselves in a vulnerable position after being down a set early . On May 19, the Matadors faced the Harker Eagles, a team that finished the league with a 34-5 record, capped off with a Division II CCS title. The Matadors looked to prevail as NorCal champions once again and finish the season highlighted by a CCS championship. After trading multiple sets, both teams fought it out in a 15 point, fifth-set, winner take all. Leading 14-13 in the fifth set, the Matadors had their longest rally of the match and the biggest point of the year. The rest is history.  

After jumping out to an early lead against the Eagles, the Matadors struggled to gain traction as the Eagles kept themselves within two to three points. Down the stretch, a couple spikes from senior Nikhil Bapat gave the Matadors a 22-20 lead. However, a late run by the Eagles allowed them to take the set 25-22, the first set that the Matadors had yielded at home the entire season.

Despite a discouraged team at the time, junior Matthew Yang recounts that Coach Phillip Chui was able to re-spark their confidence.

“We [were] all hyped up because the score was really close,” Yang said. “We knew if we made just a couple more plays we would be back in it and we came out stronger in the second set.”

Bapat and senior Gautham Dasari were major contributors in the second set as a series of spikes by the two sparked the Matadors offense. Learning from their mistakes in the first set, the Matadors returned to championship form winning the second 25-23. Chui credits the maturity of the seniors for their resilient efforts.

“All ten seniors are professionals,” Chui said. “They ride through the rough patches and keep their chin level headed and grounded. I cannot say much more but, [they are] an unbelievable group of kids”

Despite the Eagles gaining momentum in the second set and gaining a lead late into the set, they showcased their skills with a late run in the third, taking the third set.  Once again, the Matadors were down, but were able to bounce back with a strong fourth set and the game was going to come down to a fifth set.

Yang remembers the inspiring message from the seniors in the huddle before the fifth set and how their speech established the importance of this moment.

“This is why we play, this is what we came for. We came this whole season just to get to this game,” Yang said. “And it’s that fifth set that matters the most.”

The fifth set went like any other set during the match. They traded points and both teams, tied at 13-13 found themselves two points away from clinching a NorCal championship. Leading 14-13, a sense of familiarity was brewing as the Matadors could repeat history, win 15-13 in the fifth set and win NorCal for the second straight year. The Matadors were victorious on one of the most dramatic finishes in a championship season as Dasari spiked the Matadors to victory.

“That was a ridiculous championship point and that sums up the way we play,” Chui said. “We’re diving, we’re scrambling and I told them before the match we play defense and we’ll be fine and that’s what we did.”

NorCal Final vs Harker HS

Additional reporting by Roshan Fernandez and Anish Vasudevan