Volleyball team falls short against Langley

In their first rivalry game of the season, McLean was overwhelmed by the regional champions

RISE+UP+FOR+THE+SLAM+-+Senior+Nicole+Malus+rises+up+to+spike+the+ball+after+a+set+from+Pari+Eaton+at+the+rivalry+game+against+Langley+on+Sept.+2.

Kent Arnold

RISE UP FOR THE SLAM – Senior Nicole Malus rises up to spike the ball after a set from Pari Eaton at the rivalry game against Langley on Sept. 2.

Paarth Soni, Reporter

Walking into Langley’s gym on Sept. 2, the entire bleachers were covered by the Saxons’ whiteout. Even before the game started, Langley’s student section was roaring and hyped up. It was obvious that McLean was lacking support for this big game as the student section was about 10 times smaller than theirs. Langley was favored to win this game, However, this wasn’t a complete disadvantage for McLean.

“We’re the underdogs so we don’t have pressure on us. They have all the pressure and that can crack a team mentally, so all we need to do is play our game and wait for them to make errors,” said senior Pari Eaton, a member of the varsity volleyball team.

Although the Langley team made a run for states last year, McLean approached this game just like they would for any other team. 

“Our mindset is that we’re excited but also determined to play a good match against them. Playing Langley is always more intense because we’re rivals, but we need to focus on what we’re doing and our side of the court, not just the opponent,” said senior Ella Park, a member of the varsity team. 

As the ref blew the whistle and the ball flew straight up into the air, tension was high on both sides of the net. Just five minutes into the game, it was easy to tell that this was going to be a wakeup call for McLean.

“Right now, our biggest weakness is mostly our chemistry and our mental game – we haven’t played with each other for very long so it’s hard to establish a strong connection early,” Park said. “We also sometimes allow other teams to get runs on us because we get psyched out from certain plays and lose confidence.”

  McLean was struggling against their tough competitor on all ends. Although they had some strong spikers such as Ella Park and Nicole Malus, Langley was able to defend and return the ball very well. 

And with such a strong offensive opponent, McLean’s defenders were spotty in their coverages and were not able to return some of Langley’s spikes. The team’s lack of chemistry was apparent on the defensive end as they didn’t do a good job in communicating through setbacks. Because of this Langley was able to go on long runs where McLean was scoreless.

“When we can’t maintain momentum, everything crumbles around us. We started the match with a few strong plays, then had a couple errors in a row. Instead of shaking off the errors, resetting for the next point, and continuing to swing strong, we lost our confidence and let their energy dominate the match,” said Samantha Stewart, head coach of the varsity volleyball team.

Fortunately this is just the beginning of McLean’s long season. The team can learn a lot from this loss and use it to their advantage as to what they need to work on in practice and for future games. 

For the rest of the season, we want to always be getting better and be prepared for the playoffs,” Park said. 

With a deep bench and a talented roster this year, McLean Volleyball has a bright future ahead of them.

“I have full confidence in the team and know they can beat Langley when we host them at the end of season,” Stewart said. “The biggest obstacle will be the team’s mindset going into the match and their belief in themselves.”