Boys’ Volleyball Shuts out Sage Hill in First League Match

Boys’ volleyball (7-10) won its league game 3-0 against Sage Hill High on March 7 in the gym. The Bulldogs will compete in a tournament on March 17-18, facing La Mirada High for the first round at 4 p.m.

By focusing on their defensive effort and staying consistent, almost every one of the 18 varsity volleyball players contributed to the victory, according to boys’ volleyball head coach Eric Graham.

“As a coach, you don’t have that much control of the outcome; the players are doing a lot of the work out there,” Graham said. “But at no point did I ever really feel nervous about the results. With how we were playing, I knew that we were going to have the result that we wanted.”

The Bulldogs won the first two rallies and maintained a lead against the Lightning, securing the first set 25-16 only 16 minutes into the game. 

“Having skill is only half the battle. You have to have the effort level. You have to want to win.”

— Eric Graham

The match tipped in favor of Sage Hill High during the second set when the Lightning defended their narrow lead 4-8 while both teams continuously scored. Outside hitter and sophomore Gabriel Martinez hit a spike after libero and junior Sidd Chaudhary set the ball to assist, resulting in a kill, bringing the score to 8-11.

“I remember us coming back from the second set when we were down a lot, and that was really exciting because it showed a lot of resilience in our team, being able to fight back,” Chaudhary said. “We stayed consistent the entire time, and we never let that deficit get control of us.” 

Bringing up the score to a tie of 21-21 and eventually winning the second set 25-22, the Bulldogs rebounded through a combination of blocks and spikes among players, including middle attacker and junior Emmett Lo and setter and senior Noah Luper.

“We had to have the grit to stick with it and rally back when things weren’t going our way,” Luper said. “We overcame losing some momentum by trusting each other and just playing hard.”

As the third set began, the Bulldogs scored the first point to take a dominant position for the remainder of the match, winning 25-15. Defensive specialist and senior Mathew Noh’s serves helped set up spikes that the Lightning unsuccessfully attempted to return. 

One memorable moment was when Lo hit an effective swing through a slide attack to score a kill; Graham noted that it was a rare occurrence.

“It’s good to see when we’re feeling comfortable. That means we’re willing to try some of these new things that we’ve been practicing,” Graham said. “And so to have a play that we haven’t practiced that much being run during a match showed my team’s confidence and comfort level in the game.”

Boys’ volleyball is in CIF-SS Division III this season, and the team is vying for the league champion title, according to Graham.

“Having skill is only half the battle,” Graham said. “You have to have the effort level. You have to want to win.”