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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Freshmen working to fill shoes of graduated volleyball players

Eric Norris
Freshman Ahmed Abdalla goes for the tip during a match against Los Gatos on March 22.

Nearing the end of the second set in a home game against Palo Alto on March 15, the boys’ volleyball team trailed 20-17 until senior setter Kali Duvvuri dumped the ball into the court, reaching above the opponent’s blocks and scoring the next point. He then led the team in a 4-point run to bring the team back into the game and eventually win the set. The Falcons ultimately won 3-0.

As of April 4, the team has a 6-3 record in the El Camino Division, starting the season off with a 5-game win streak that was broken after their 3-1 loss to Fremont on March 27. Although they are currently placed first in the El Camino league, senior libero Sam Kau pinpoints a prominent weakness within the team he believes can be improved on. 

“I think we could improve on our consistency in making serves. We have good serves, we just need to make them in,” Kau said.

He specifically recalls during their second set against Wilcox on March 20, the team started with five missed serves in a row, resulting in a loss of 25-22 for the set. While the team has been working to fix the inconsistencies, Kau finds that the freshman players have stepped up in the season, especially with  the departure of six strong seniors due to graduation.

“This year, we don’t have a big [opposite hitter] like Seth Hulme, or a libero like Nathan Lim who is really quick on his feet. I think those are the two of the biggest people that we’ve lost,” Kau said.

Four freshmen — Lawrence He, Ahmed Abdalla, Anson Hulme and Dawson Yeh — have immensely benefited the team over the past games. He, an outside hitter with two years of club experience, plays defense and service specialist, while also playing a variety of positions like setter and outside hitter during team practices.

Anson, brother of former opposite hitter Seth, while he has little experience with organized volleyball, Hulme has adjusted well to playing in the front row as an opposite hitter alongside senior Edmond Hsu.

Abdalla, an experienced club player at Mountain View Volleyball Club, primarily plays as a middle blocker while Yeh, a club player at Red Rock Volleyball Club, is an opposite hitter and  serving specialist.

“The freshmen are learning, so they can be future stars on the varsity team,” volleyball coach Lori Gragnola said. “They may not get a ton of playing time now, but they will in the coming years. Several have club experience, so they are already playing at a level higher than JV.”

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