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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

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Girls’ volleyball nets reverse sweep against Mercy

After securing the bronze division title with a 4-1 record at the Milpitas Spikefest volleyball tournament on Saturday, the Palo Alto High School varsity girls’ volleyball team (5-1) came back to triumph over the Mercy Crusaders (3-0) with a score of 3-2 on Tuesday night at home. 

The first set started with both teams matching point-for-point. The Vikings relied heavily on senior outside hitter Kylie Yen’s powerful spikes, but the Crusaders began adapting by setting up double blocks and utilizing its solid back row defense to stop Yen. Crusader senior libero Jenna Manuel began stepping up her game as well, keeping rallies going in their team’s favor and helping carry the team through to a first set win, 17-25. 

According to Crusader junior Mia Ferdinand, their team was confident coming out of the first set.

“We had a lot of momentum going into the second set,” Ferdinand said. “In the first set, we started out kind of shaky, but it built up from there going into the second set.”

The second set began with the Crusaders taking an early lead, working around the Vikings’ strong front row defense with a series of back row hits. A succession of unforced service errors from the Vikings expanded the Crusaders’ lead, and the Crusaders’ coordination allowed for well-timed blocks against the Viking hitters which gave them the second set, also 17-25.

According to Viking head coach Chris Crader, the Vikings pulled their game together after the second set. 

“[The team is] a group of girls that really support each other and a group of very competitive individuals, and they’re recognizing that this isn’t getting it done and they can play better,” Crader said. “They dug deep and started trusting each other.”

The Vikings regained ground in the third set, keeping their lead off of Yen’s kills. The whole team showed great effort, with Viking junior setter Sophie Mies setting the ball consistently for both Yen and freshman outside hitter Maura Hambly. This momentum boosted the Vikings, leading to consecutive successful kills, while the Crusaders began to falter. Rallying from their performance in the previous sets, the Vikings closed the third set with a decisive 25-17 win.

Maintaining the momentum into the fourth set, the Vikings made use of Yen’s ability to aim kills into a weak right side defense, getting them a lead. Repeated unforced errors from the Crusaders kept the Vikings in a solid 10-point lead. Viking junior libero Mackenzie Zhao was unafraid to dive for the kills that the Crusaders did attempt, though not many got past the double blocks of Mies and Viking junior middle blocker Sophie Pan. The Vikings eventually closed out the fourth set with a couple of well-played spikes and a score of 25-18.

The Vikings found their rhythm, resonating with the energy of the spectators, while the Crusaders struggled to coordinate their moves, missing many opportunities for soft tips. The Crusaders hesitated to dive for balls, allowing the Vikings’ precision shots to keep them at a steady four-point lead. Both offensively and defensively, the Vikings dominated. Capitalizing on a series of clever tips and the strikes delivered by Yen and Pan, the Vikings stretched their lead, concluding the match with a 15-8 victory—a remarkable comeback from their initial 0-2 deficit.

Crader said he believed the Vikings were in a solid position before the match.

“We played well on Thursday, and we played even better on Saturday, so I thought we were going to be in a good place,” Crader said. “But in the first two sets, everything just felt really dead. I don’t know what it was, but we upped our level of energy and that was a really big change in the last three sets.”

According to Crader, the team is very supportive and willing to make sacrifices for the synergy of the team.

“We have a great group of girls who support each other and whether they’re playing or not, they’re making our team better.” Crader said. “We need that, especially tonight when we were down two sets to zero.”

According to Yen, the team’s chemistry is so strong because it is close-knit like a family.

“We try to make it [the team] like a family,” Yen said. “We do team bonding, like going to the beach together in a couple of weeks, and we just make it a really inclusive place.”

Yen said that the game reflects the team’s theme of playing better and better as time goes on.

“In this game, I felt that the more we played, the better and more comfortable we became,” Yen said. “So, maybe that’s a theme for the entire season: the more games we play, the better we’ll get.”

The Vikings will face the Homestead Mustangs (3-2) in a non-league game 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Homestead High School.

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About the Contributors
Nathan Jiang
Nathan Jiang, Editor-in-Chief, Webmaster
Nathan Jiang (Class of 2025) joined The Voice in his sophomore year and enjoys playing tennis, learning and loves meeting new people!
Evan Chien
Evan Chien, Senior Staff Writer
Evan Chien (Class of 2025) joined The Voice his sophomore year and enjoys reading, swimming, hanging out with friends and gaming in his free time.

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