Serving Wins Through the Season

Jasmine Oang, Writer

The spring season is nearing its end, but Boys Varsity Volleyball is still going strong! With an overall record of 24-4 and a Pacific League record of 9-2, the boys have surpassed some tough competition this season. Despite the team’s phenomenal record, the players are still striving to win league, and to overcome AHS’ rival Crescenta Valley (CV).

According to team Co-Captain Bryan Liu, the team was “overly confident” at the beginning of the season, which led them to “let down [their] guard a little bit.” However, he said, “Losing to Burroughs and CV [gave] us a wake-up call, so after these two losses, we didn’t want to lose any more games, so we now take every game more seriously. Our goals this year have stayed the same: to beat Burroughs, to beat CV, and to win league and CIF.” Sophomore Aidan Yang explained, “These 2 games [against Burroughs and CV] will truly test our growth as a team from past games, and I can speak on behalf of my team that when we do play them, we will fight for every single point,” adding, “Our goal for this season was to dedicate it to our coach, David Iosia, who passed away late 2018.”

At the beginning of the season, the team took a rough 1-3 loss against John Burroughs. Despite the game being “very back and forth” and having “many close points,” Bryan noted, ”We learned that we shouldn’t enter into games cocky or think we are better than another team. From this game, our middles learned what it truly feels like to go against a fast setting team and a team that knows how to run their middles; our pin hitters learned that we must push over or else we will lose the point; our setter learned that he must be an offensive threat whenever he can; our libero learned that he must forget about what happened previously and just continue playing even if he messed up.”

Until the end of the league season, the standings for CIF are still in contention, so to prepare, Bryan explained, “We’re just preparing for the worst, meaning we are expecting huge blocks, fast jump serves, a fast libero, and an overall tall team. So in practice, we focus on aiming our shots to the deep corner, making it harder for the defense. We are also pushing Jared, our setter, to be more aggressive which opens up the net for our pin hitters. Jared explained, “The whole team, including myself, has started jump serving to put more pressure on the opposing team. Our setters are beginning to attack more frequently to keep our opponents on their toes and anticipating an attack from anyone. We have been working on a few plays that will hopefully throw off their defenders and expose weaknesses on the other side of the net.”

With that in consideration, the team was not ready to give up on its season goals. On Apr. 18, our Apaches faced the Indians once again, this time at home, and defeated them 3-1. This was Burroughs’ 76-match Pacific League winning streak, which dated back to 2013. Behind the win was a new team mentality. Aidan revealed, “When we played them again, we all stepped on that court with the aggression and willingness to play hard. As a team, our goal is just to play our game. It doesn’t matter how well the other team is playing. We only cared about how the ball was handled on our side of the court.” This way, Aidan says, the team “let Burroughs make the mistakes.”

AHS lost the first set 16-25, but the team quickly picked itself back up and won three consecutive sets afterward. Bryan explained, “We knew that all the pressure was on them. We had nothing to lose so we gave it our all.” Utilizing the skills Bryan described earlier, including jump serving and playing more aggressively, the team fought to maintain a lead in each set, “We were swinging as hard as we could, diving for every ball, hustling harder than ever.”

In addition to a new mentality, there was also a strong team support system. Aidan noted, “I have to acknowledge the bench as they really pumped us up this time. Their energy definitely spilled over onto the court. when we did finally score the winning point, we just went off. To finally beat the team that had never lost a game in six years truly tested how hard we were all willing the work.” He added, “Words can’t convey the emotions and satisfaction from beating Burroughs. we are more confident in beating CV, as we have proved our program shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Bryan reminisced, “After the game, we were all screaming in joy and in shock taking down Burroughs,” adding, “Now we have a ton more confidence in taking down CV because Burroughs beat CV. So as long as we play our best and hustle for every play, I know that we can take them.” Referencing the championship title, he said, “Now, we want it even more.”

Congrats to the Boys Varsity Volleyball team for its amazing win and good luck for the rest of the season!