Girls Volleyball: The Matadors narrowly lose to Gunn HS in a tight five set match

With the final score of 3-2, the Matadors lose their eighth game of the league season

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Girls Volleyball: The Matadors narrowly lose to Gunn HS in a tight five set match

Junior Carina Johnson hopes to score and take the lead against Gunn HS in the fifth set. Photo by Justine Ha

Junior Carina Johnson hopes to score and take the lead against Gunn HS in the fifth set. Photo by Justine Ha

Junior Carina Johnson hopes to score and take the lead against Gunn HS in the fifth set. Photo by Justine Ha

Junior Carina Johnson hopes to score and take the lead against Gunn HS in the fifth set. Photo by Justine Ha

Justine Ha and Tabitha Mendez

Following a previous 3-0 loss to Palo Alto HS, the MVHS girls volleyball team was hoping to finally climb up the ranks in the league leaderboard with its game against Gunn HS on Oct. 10. Although it was a close game that led to a five set match, the Matadors were ultimately unsuccessful in gaining their first win of the league season. 

Kickstarting the match, GHS had taken a tremendous lead by winning the first two sets. Due to a lack of communication on the court and inability to convert the long serving runs from GHS, the Matadors had to quickly come up with a solution. Junior Jackie Cai explains that this lack of communication altered the team’s dynamic during play. 

“We started off [the first set] with high energy, but then because Gunn got like a long serving run, our energy certainly [did] go down,” Cai said. “We mainly focused on talking [later on into the game] because [I feel as though keeping up the] energy is very important in a game.”

Despite the slow start from the Matadors, Coach Collin Anderson says the team’s strength was that they were able to have a collective effort to kickstart a lead after the second set.

“The seniors, the injured players and the captains all spoke up and said,‘Hey, we can do better — let’s get motivated to push ourselves to make those plays,’ and we really did,” Anderson said. “We talked about washing away mistakes and getting back to making our plays, [which] I think we really did.”

In the third set, the Matadors looked to change up the pace of the game. With improved defensive blocks and strong hits by the Matadors, they were able to defeat GHS in the third and fourth set with both final scores being 25-19. 

Junior Rebecca Halcin and Anderson also credit the victories in set three and four to the loud crowd. Anderson describes the environment as “hard to ignore” due to the constant screams of encouragement; it drove the Matadors to keep their energy up. 

A loud bench will always carry you through — you hear people and they’re encouraging you,” Halcin said. “Then you just want to help your teammates and you want to make them proud. Everytime there’s a good pass, a good set, a good hit, you’ll hear someone cheering you on and that’s so motivating.” 

When the fifth set began, an intense scene began due to the continuous back and forth ties between the two teams. Despite the Matador’s comeback after the fourth set and the uplifting crowd present during this game, the team began to lose momentum towards the end of the final set. This allowed Gunn to regain the lead in the overall match, and eventually win the fifth set 15-9, resulting in Gunn winning the overall game 3-2.

Regardless of the stressful environment before the fifth set, Halcin comments on the focused but relaxed environment the team had created prior to playing the final set during their team huddle. 

“[In between the fourth and fifth set], that’s when we were joking around more, but we were still serious —we were still really in it,” Halcin said. “We knew that we had to have the right mindset going into it but we also were just having more fun, which was really important because that’s what this is all about. We all enjoy volleyball, we’re making connections and we’re always just [forming] new friendships.”

When reflecting on the team’s performance after the first two sets, Anderson comments  that a mixture of luck and energy were the main factors that drove the Matadors to play a well fought game at the end. 

“You know, we had some good luck,” Anderson said. “But you get good luck when you’re making the right plays. We had a couple of just miracle balls fall our way and some very good plays. I think that energized us to stay aggressive — we passed well, we had some great serves, and things [happened] for us.”