Girls Volleyball: Matadors win against Prospect HS in three sets

Team secures a blowout win, but loses a key player due to injury in the process

Oishee Misra, Justine Ha, and Collin Qian

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3-0. The varsity girls volleyball team managed to seal a definitive victory against Prospect High School and normally, this would be cause for celebration. However, a knee injury for senior Divya Suresh following the winning point placed a shadow over celebration.

Going into the game, senior Jiani Tian said that there was an expectation from their coach, Colin Anderson, to secure a win due to Prospect HS being a lower division team. They had an upcoming tournament on Saturday against Division 1 teams, so Anderson wanted them to go into the tournament with high momentum. 

MVHS managed to stay in the lead for a majority of the game as a result of several long rallies, strong serving — Suresh had a nine serve streak during the third set — and most importantly, team dynamics. 

“Team chemistry is so great [this season],” Tian said. “We have four seniors and the reason why our senior class is so special is [because] we’ve basically played together every single year since middle school. So since the core leadership has great chemistry, it affects our entire team.”

Suresh said that team cohesiveness improves throughout the season because as playing frequency increases, it’s easier to understand the strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes of each teammate. 

“Cohesiveness, in general, is something that we’re working on and just knowing that your team members are going to be there for you if you miss a ball,” Suresh said. “Also, we actually have team bonding [on Friday], so being together and hanging out together helps with overall team unity.”

Freshman Miranda Shakouri, one of only two freshmen on the varsity team, also believes that the team chemistry and the vocal members of the team are huge benefits. During the second set, when the team faced a 10 point deficit, the high levels of energy helped them keep going and get back in the lead. 

The Matadors celebrate as they come back from a ten-point deficit in the second set. Photo by Oishee Misra

“Honestly [being on varsity] is amazing because just the level of playing that varsity does is really helping me improve from middle school,” Shakouri said.  “When transitioning over, the players really helped me by welcoming me.”

Despite the 3-0 win, the game ended on a bittersweet note. At the end of the last set, Suresh played in the front row, a spot usually she isn’t in, due to them having a big lead against PHS. As Suresh played in the front row, the team cheered her on as she was experiencing something fun and different.

Suresh spiked the ball over the net to secure that final point, and as soon as she finished, she fell to the floor. Being a flexible person, Suresh says she initially debated whether not being able to move her knee was a weird flexible thing, but to her disappointment, her injury turned out to be worse. Eventually, athletic trainer Javier Margarito had to pop it back in.

“People who are injured, usually when they get up, everyone starts clapping and I’m usually on the clapping side of the situation,” Suresh said. “You never really think that people will be clapping for you and I just remember thinking: This is so weird!”

Tian said that volleyball is generally an injury-prone sport because of the two and a half-hour practices and frequent weekend tournaments. However, Suresh’s injury hit hard since she’s a senior starter and it’s her last season. Tian also says that the team tries to be practical when injuries happen, providing the injured teammate with advice such as icing and elevating limbs.

“As a team, we just hop right back into it,” Tian said. “There is really no time to mourn about who is injured. Since our team is so supportive of each other, even when it’s a backup player coming to play on the court to replace an injured player, we’re always supportive of them and help them get better.”

Suresh said that having the support of her team through this was comforting, especially when teammates checked in on her after Javier Margarito worked his magic and the constant checking in texts from her teammates that followed.

“It’s just really comforting as my teammates have gone through similar situations, like [Anumita Alur] tore her ACL last year and [Sammi Dunn] hurt her knee recently,” Suresh said. “So, since they have gone through similar situations it’s like ‘Oh OK, these people can relate to me and they can help me since they have been through it before.” 

For Shakouri, although they won the game, which is usually the goal, she expresses disappointment.

“Honestly, we all think that we’d rather have lost that game than had that injury,” Shakouri said.