It was a phenomenal moment as senior Eric Tao served the ball, and slammed it into the middle of the court in a perfect ace. There was a moment of astonished silence before the team burst into cheers for the tiring four set RM victory, 25-21 25-14 23-25 25-16.
The match started at 7:15 pm on Monday and, at first, the boys weren’t playing up to their full potential. The team was dangerously close to losing the first set and had to fight for every point.
Although RM had the first serve, the ball shot into the net, giving Blair early control of the game. They returned the hits and simply waited for the RM boys to make mistakes. However, after a series of spikes and an especially good rally, an incredible save from sophomore Joshua Yu brought the two teams back to a tie.
From then on, it was an intense battle for each point, with neither team seeming to have an advantage. At one point, RM pulled away from Blair with a couple of good saves, but it wasn’t enough to maintain a lead. However, due to a couple of powerful spikes from senior Jack English, the boys were able to take the first set 25-21.
At the start of the second set, it looked as if RM had figured out Blair’s weaknesses, improving their attacks to shoot through Blair’s defense to continue to score points. Although there were instances of bad communication, causing the team to even miss the ball entirely, they won a pretty straightforward second set, 25-14.
Out of the four, the third set was undoubtedly the most intense. Similar to the first set, every point was crucial. Blair’s team, which is known for their defensive skills, not only dived to return the balls, but also landed a couple of strong hits in order to combat RM’s second set aggression.
One particularly exciting rally featured amazing hits and saves from both teams, and even a last-minute kick to keep the ball in play. However, a mishit from RM ended the rally in Blair’s favor.
Down 19-21, the team called a timeout in order to clear their heads. Coming back refreshed and determined, the boys immediately won two points to tie up the score. At 23-24, another timeout was called, however, it was directly followed by a mistake from RM’s side, allowing Blair to claim the third set 23-25.
Quickly recovering from their third set loss, the boys went all out in the fourth. “We kept mixing up our offense from hard kills to off-speed tips to throw their defense off,” said senior Josh Chen. This strategy proved to be extremely effective.
The first half of the set was close, but after that, RM was ruthless. They delivered numerous spikes, stepped up their offense, and tightened their defenses. Unfazed by Blair’s strong opening, they completely destroyed the opposing team in the second half of the set. Finally, Tao served the ace that ended the fourth set, 25-16.
Despite going against a tough team, the RM boys persevered through dips in performance to earn the victory. “We did a better job pushing through the tough moments than them… That is to say, we were a little bit more resilient and it paid off,” said senior Jack English.
Still undefeated, the boys will hope to continue their streak on Wednesday against the Churchill Bulldogs.
Featured photo by RM Tide