Story by: Zoe Chen
Photo by: Shin-Hye (Rachel) Choi
Girls volleyball swept the Chaparral Pumas in their first round of CIF playoffs, a home match on Thursday, Oct. 19. The Tigers kept up their energy throughout all three sets, showing strong kills and collaboration. While the Pumas also had strong blocks and kills, their weaker passes prevented them from using their strengths. The Tigers dominated the first set, and despite the closer second and third sets, defeated the Pumas 3-0 to advance to the next round of playoffs.
“We really feed off of one another when we’re playing big teams like this,” senior outside hitter Helena Foord said. “We played really well, we came out with a lot of energy…we’re super excited. We’ve gotten really far.”
The Tigers entered the first set brimming with energy. An impressive kill by senior outside hitter Jenna Garner gained the Tigers the first point of the match, a good omen of what was to come. Numerous kills, as well as an ace by junior libero Ava Conti, gave the Tigers a sizable advantage 9-3, prompting the Pumas to call their first timeout.
An ace by Foord followed the timeout, proving the Tigers’ energy had not declined. A powerful kill by senior opposite hitter Ingrid Zahn advanced the score to 12-6, and after a strong ace by senior setter Kendall Taylor, the Tigers held a 10-point lead, 16-6.
The Pumas began to lose confidence, and while able to keep numerous Tiger kills up, their unstable blocks rarely allowed them a good dump over the net.
The Tigers continued to showcase their momentum, roaring after each block or kill that gained them another point. A tip by Garner sent the Pumas scrambling, and the score ultimately rose to 24-14. With a final Chaparral fumble, the Tigers took the first set 25-14.
Chaparral blocks forcefully downed Tiger kills in the early rallies of the second set, putting the Tigers behind. South Pasadena gained a single point after a kill by Zahn, but still down by five points, the Tigers called a timeout.
The timeout seemed to spur South Pasadena’s confidence, and they reentered the court with a strong kill over the Chaparral blockers, 4-10. With their newfound drive, the Tigers began to steadily gain on the Pumas’ score. Strategic attacks from the Tigers shone throughout the remainder of the set, ultimately allowing them to win.
A tip by senior middle hitter Maggie Hunter gained the Tigers a point 12-15. With a final kill from Zahn, the Pumas’ lead was dissolved and the scores tied at 15-15. A Puma timeout seemed to further boost the Tigers’ confidence, and the Tigers continued to outplay the Pumas. While Chaparral was able to catch up to South Pasadena’s short lead, 23-23, a kill by Foord and an ace by Conti snatched the win from the Pumas, putting the Tigers ahead in the match 2-0.
The scores stayed close in the early rallies of the third set, with neither team able to pull notably ahead of the other. Both teams took advantage of kills, but the Pumas especially showcased low sets before strong kills, giving the Tigers less time to prepare for the ball’s landing. Nonetheless, Tiger saves and blocks tied the scores at 7-7, then 11-11. A final tie occurred at 14-14, but after that, the Pumas were never able to gather enough momentum to again pull ahead.
The Tigers seemed to feed off of every point they gained, cheering more than ever before.
With everything they had, the Tigers snatched the final rallies of the set. At 24-20, an incredible final kill by Garner sent the Pumas diving, but as the ball bounced off the polished wood of the court, the Tigers won their first round of CIF playoffs in a sweep.
“I think we just had such a great amount of hustle out there. We didn’t let any balls drop. We went after every ball even if it seemed out of reach, and I think that is what really gets you the big points, the big momentum shift,” Garner said. “We played really clean volleyball.”