Volleyball falls on Dig Pink night

Charity game results in tough loss for Highlanders

Junior Alice Holoubek tips the ball, dragging McLean out of a deficit in a close second set.

Highlanders lose, 3-0

Colorful streamers, balloons, and vibrant light pink and silver streaks covered McLean’s lower gym on a supposedly typical Tuesday night. The volleyball team went all out in support of Mclean Varsity Volleyball’s Breast Cancer Fundraiser match against the visiting Washington-Liberty Generals on October 18th.

Beginning the first set of the game with contagious energy matched by an encouraging student section, Highlanders won the first two points before entering a slump and dropping the next four due to untimely plays by the offense.

Strong rallies from both teams caused the game to remain tied throughout most of the set, with strong hits from the right-side hitter Farah Eljazzar and outside hitter Goldie Woods contributing to the team’s passion plays.

“Our hitters definitely knew where to place the balls,” senior Jessica Lin said.

Woods scored five points that made up the deficit, bringing the score to 11-10, with McLean temporarily in the lead. Nonetheless, multiple missed serves and out balls from the Highlanders caused them to drop the first set 25-19.

“The student section was an aspect I really enjoyed while playing,” Woods said. “They’re small but very mighty.”

The Highlanders began the second set with sizzling optimism, with well-timed kills and a block from junior middle hitter Alice Holoubek quickly regaining the energy they displayed in the first set. Cheers and words of encouragement that rained down from the electric student section allowed the Highlanders to triumphantly take back their home court, winning the first three points.

However, the Generals didn’t sit still for too long, rallying to make a 4-6 comeback. Both teams demonstrated strong offensive and defensive strategies, but the Highlanders fell into another deficit due to the General’s strong hits.

“I believe we could’ve worked more on ball coverage this game,” Lin said. “Our serve receive was very consistent, but receiving well-placed hits could be improved.”

Though a long series of rallies tied a majority of the second set, Washington-Liberty led 15-10 at the height of the match. However, this only encouraged the Highlanders as strong hits from outside hitters Zaylie Tamashiro and Woods earned an additional four points and brought the momentum back in favor of the home squad.

Despite these efforts, the deficit still strangled the Highlanders, as they were already too far behind. The Generals deliberately targeted deep corners of the spacious volleyball court, which caused the defense to struggle when hits went deep.

A final effort from Holoubek while blocking earned the team another point, but it was not enough as the Highlanders gave up the second set again, 25-19.
Similar to previous sets, the Highlanders started strong in the third set with a 4-1 lead. Two of these points came from Holoubek’s impressive blocking ability, which prevented the Generals from running their offense successfully.

A set of rallies that ended with McLean falling victim to W-L’s offense brought the score to 17-10, where McLean called a timeout to encourage a hopeful outlook among the players. Following this, the Highlanders closed the point gap to 18-15, with aggressive swings from Tamashiro leading their offense.

Further revitalized, McLean tied the score at 19-19, with the previous huddle seemingly inspiring the team. With W-L losing ground, Mclean was on track to claim the third set, sitting comfortably with a 22-19 lead. However, blocked offensive runs and defensive mistakes tied the score for both teams at 24-24.

At this point, the Highlanders and Generals were neck-to-neck. Every time one team gained a point, the other would make a quick recovery and tie the score once again. Cheers filled the gym as the crowd egged on their respective teams.

“I felt like the student section showed up and went all out,” Holoubek said.

However, the game eventually ended with McLean losing their hold on the set, as W-L came out victorious 26-24 in the set and swept the match 3-0.

The team will move onto districts the week of the 24th with their first opponent: the Marshall Statesmen.

Despite this loss, the liveliness of the match was riveting, as additional events, such as the bake sale outside the gym and raffle fundraiser following the first set, reminded players of the goal for the night. True to its name, the Dig Pink Game successfully raised funds for breast cancer research, making us all the true winners of the game.

“I was very happy with the [outcome] for this match,” Holoubek said. “I thought the support that all of our friends and family gave us tonight was the highlight of the night.”