Young volleyball squad falls to Tesoro in CIF 1st round

Up two games on opponent Tesoro and one more away from sealing a victory in the first round of CIF playoffs, the boys’ volleyball team thought they had a win in the bag. What followed was a defensive breakdown on the part of the Wolverines and a stunning turnaround in a match that had previously seemed out of reach. The boys lost the next three games, booting them from the playoffs and abruptly ending their postseason run.

“We straight up blew the Tesoro match,” starting opposite Sean Berman ’09 said. “We thought we had it wrapped up and started playing easy.  We obviously didn’t adjust, which was the problem.”

“They also came out and played much better than they had in the first two games,” outside hitter Matt Bagnard ’09 said. “We didn’t finish what we started and it led to our loss.”

A tough out of league schedule caused the team to accumulate several losses, but a 10-2 run during league play gave the young team confidence at the end of the regular season. Aside from the two losses, both of which came against league rival Loyola, the Wolverines decisively won every league match en route to the playoffs. In all 10 victories, the team dropped only one set to Crespi.

Carrying the momentum of its success in league and two shutout wins over St. Francis and Alemany to close out league play, the team was driven to excel in the
postseason, but was disappointed with the Tesoro loss.

“Of course all of us expected to go farther in CIF,” Bagnard said. “On paper we were outmatched against almost every other team; they were all bigger and more widely known than our Harvard-Westlake squad. We saw ourselves as the team that would surprise people.”

Ultimately, the first round loss halted those hopes. However, the young squad will return three of its six starters next year, ameliorating the inexperience that co-captain Ross Gruber ’08 thought hindered the team’s success this season.

“Volleyball is a loose, fun game,” he said. “By not being experienced in big matches, people clench up in big game four or fives and then make errors and get upset with themselves. When it comes down to it, if you’re not used to that sort of situation, it hurts you.”

Even with the early playoffs exit, the team still had fun, something the laid-back volleyball team is known for on campus.

On Senior Night, the last home game of the season, juniors organized a Hawaiian-themed celebration, complete with tiki torches and grass hula skirts. Underclassmen wore an array of ridiculous costumes, including Ryan Plueger’s ’10 edible bikini, Kenny Fowlkes’ ’09 cat mask and Bagnard’s tiki hat, and the team blew out Alemany in three sets.

“Seeing that we didn’t win any big games, the season was still a lot of fun,” Berman said. “I guess being the most laid-back team didn’t really help us go too far in playoffs, but I’d say we had a good time along the way.”