Boys’ volleyball prolongs winning streak

May 14, 2018 — by Karen Chow and Chelsea Leung

Having won eight of their last nine matches, the boys’ volleyball team is currently first in the De Anza League.

At a home game vs. Mountain View on March 30, they beat Mountain View 3-1.

Even so, junior libero and outside hitter Derek Chiou called the team’s overall performance mediocre. Though the team played well in the first set, the second set included many missed passes and out-of-bounds attempted kills. After losing the third set, the Falcons barely won the fourth set 25-23.

The team had its next match against Los Altos on April 4. (The Falcon could not cover this match because of printing deadlines.)

The team is not as strong offensively as it was last year with star outside hitter Joel Schneidmiller.  This loss showed that it is difficult for the team to win sets quickly this year, and the average time spent on a point has increased. As a result, the players have been forced to improve their defense as other teams are able to return their offensive efforts easily, and the lack of their stellar outside hitter has taken a toll on the team’s kill ratio.

“If we were playing in a long point, we could just set Joel and the play would be basically be done,” Chiou said. “We can’t play as sloppily as we did last year because we don’t have Joel to bail us out.”

Additionally, junior opposite hitter Joshua Lee injured his ankle during a lunch March Madness game during the week of March 12 but will be back before the season ends. Because Lee is a key part of offense, opposite hitting has diminished as Lee has been replaced by less-experienced freshman Dylan Li and Oliver Ye.

Junior outside Usman Khan said that although the Falcons lost their “best offensive weapon” in Lee, he trusts Li and Ye to step up and take on the role. As a previous setter, though, Li has had to adjust to the new open position.

“Practice has been pretty hard since Josh broke his ankle,” Li said. “I have had to break some of my setting habits and focus on my hitting form.”

Even with the loss of Lee, however, the team continued  their winning ways this year in a match against Monta Vista on March 28, winning 3-2. After losing the first set, the team’s morale sunk, and the Falcons trailed behind by nine points. However, Chiou said that the boys managed to find their footing and built up enough  momentum to dominate the next three sets.

The Monta Vista victory was especially exciting, as Monta Vista is ranked No. 5 in the nation in its division compared to Saratoga’s national rank of No. 69, according to MaxPreps. Monta Vista is also ranked No. 5 in California while Saratoga is ranked 54. Saratoga had not beaten Monta Vista in years, even with Schneidmiller on the team.

The Falcons played Homestead at an away game on March 21. Having played Homestead before this season, the team knew to concentrate on blocking Homestead’s star outside hitter senior Josh Bockholt and took the game 3-2.  

Earlier, the Falcons crushed rival Los Gatos 3-0 at a home game on March 17. In the first set, senior middle hitter Harrison Fung dominated the offense with around 15 kills and the set was won 25-17. The second set was led by Ye and Li’s serving streaks, and the boys took the second set 25-16. Maintaining momentum, the Falcons closed the match with a 25-15 win in the third set.

The team remains optimistic for CCS prospects and the rest of the season, even seeing hope of defending its NorCal crown for the third straight year.

“At the beginning of the season we thought we were going to be pretty bad,” Chiou said. “But our recent win against Monta Vista has raised our hopes, so hopefully we can win CCS and NorCals again.”