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M-A’s girls varsity volleyball team won its first match of the 2016 Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) season with a victory over Half Moon Bay on Tuesday, September 13. Despite a slow start in the first set, the Bears played hard and won the match in three straight sets.

The Bears huddle before the match.

The Bears huddle before the match.

Head Coach Fletcher Anderson tweaked the starting lineup by putting senior Casey Olsen in as setter; senior setter Kirby Knapp reportedly sat out of this match because of a recurring injury. Starting with Olsen were libero Chloe Johnson and outside hitters Jacqueline DiSanto and Kiana Sales, all of whom are seniors and veteran varsity players.

Said Assistant Coach Lauryn Anderson, “Eliza [Grover] had a great match. She played both opposite and middle and worked really hard on both offense and defense. Casey Olsen also ran a great offense in her first match running a 5-1 [rotation].”

DiSanto serves aggressively.

DiSanto serves aggressively.

DiSanto kicked off the match serving, and with a nice dig by Olsen, the Bears won the first point. Unfortunately, they fell behind after this, eventually dropping nine points behind Half Moon Bay with a score of 1-10. Amidst this serving streak by the Cougars, Anderson subbed senior defensive specialist Elise Carlomagno in to get things going for the Bears in the back row.

Anderson called a timeout when his team trailed 1-10, and subsequently M-A earned a side-out, and Johnson served up back-to-back aces for her team. The Bears continued to fight to catch up to the Cougars, Sales and sophomore middle blocker Alicia Letvin working well for M-A in the front row.

Sales hits against Half Moon Bay's block.

Sales hits against Half Moon Bay’s block.

The Bears struggled to carve out a lead, and when the score was 17-21 favoring Half Moon Bay, Anderson called his second timeout. When play resumed M-A rallied and won the first set 25-22 with an amazing comeback!

Johnson prepares to dig.

Johnson prepares to dig.

In the second set, Olsen remained setter and Johnson again played libero. M-A got off to a much better start than in the previous set, establishing a lead within the first five points and pushing ahead to game point with a score of 24-18. Half Moon Bay then took a timeout and came back with a kill, but the set ended with a beautiful kill from DiSanto into the middle of the opponents’ court, and the Bears won 25-20.

In the third and final set, DiSanto led off serving once again and fired with an ace. She continued to serve and helped M-A set up an early 4-0 lead. Senior Eliza Grover played as a middle blocker in set three and contributed to M-A’s lead with several kills and stuff blocks. At a score of 20-15, Anderson subbed junior Nicole Kang in and she made her varsity debut with three powerful float serves.

 

Said Kang, “I felt a lot more pressure since it was my first time serving in a varsity game, but I knew that I couldn’t let my team down, so I calmed myself down and went back to the basics.”

Grover attacks.

Grover attacks.

Grover approached and buried a set from Olsen to end the match with a final score of 25-20, favoring the Bears. This win was a great way for the varsity volleyball team to kick off its PAL season, as the players chase last year’s Northern California championship title.

View live tweets of the game on https://twitter.com/TheMAChronicle

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