CHAMPS: JV girls’ volleyball brings home championship crown

Sophomore libero and defensive specialist Madeline Fong serves the ball on Oct. 18 in the game against the Lincoln Mustangs. Photo by Kelley Grade

Energized by the cheering crowds, the JV girls’ volleyball team, with a score of 2–0 against the Balboa Buccaneers, claimed their eighth consecutive Academic Athletic Association (AAA) championship title on Nov. 10 on top of an undefeated regular season record.


In the first set, the Cardinals started strong by winning the first two points. Following this lead, both teams began trading points until they tied at 10–10. After that point, the Cardinals began falling behind, allowing the Buccaneers to go on a 4–0 run, due to a couple of out-of-bound hits and violations, such as rotation errors.

Still in the first set, the Cardinals began gaining one point after another by executing strong offense with powerful spikes and strong defense with solid blocks after recognizing their errors. The Cardinals ended the hard-fought set with a kill for a score of 25–23.

Sophomore setter Almarie-Rose Mata sets the ball. Photo by Kelley Grade

Coming out from such a close set, the Cardinals were determined not give the Buccaneers another opportunity to win the game. Building off their newfound focus from the last set, the Cardinals gained strategic footing, momentum throughout the set and attacked weak areas in the opponent’s court with no hesitation. Although the Buccaneers tried to fight back, it was to no avail as the Cardinals swept them with their strong offense and defensive blocks. They won the set with a staggering score of 25–6 and finally secured the win for the championship title.

Throughout the game, the only major issue was serving, according to head coach Ronald Palarca. The problem was most evident in the first set when the Cardinals were slipping behind. “We didn’t communicate very well in the first set and were missing crucial serves,” sophomore defensive specialist Fion Ho said.

They won the set with a staggering score of 25–6.

During this season, the team’s mastery and improvement of these basic but crucial skills — such as passing, defensive techniques and ball control — enabled them to run their offense faster and in a more advance fashion, according to Palarca.

To improve the players’ overall skill sets throughout the season, Palarca often puts players in unfamiliar positions. The players’ versatility in the different aspects of offense and defense allows them to understand and handle the challenges of their new positions, according to Palarca.

Because the team is filled with many skilled players, they were able to maintain an undefeated streak in the league. They weren’t pitted against competitions that could have challenged them as much as they wanted so the team played smoothly and efficiently throughout the league season, according to Palarca.

Freshman outside hitter Kailee Bumanglag spikes the ball. Photo by Kelley Grade

Due to the ease with which the team could win against their competitors in the league, Palarca worried about how dangerous and easy it could be for them to become complacent. As a result, he would combat the team’s subtle sign of complacency by bringing them back to the basics to remind them of the core skills of volleyball. Besides during practice, Palarca made sure they also concentrate during games. “Even during timeout and between matches, it’s just keeping them focus about playing volleyball and making sure we play our tempo and our speed,” Palarca said.

Ultimately, besides the technical skill part of volleyball, team unity is arguably one of the most important part of volleyball that the team has been building this season. In this season, the team welcomed a lot of new players as well as new coaches, and everybody helps each other improve. “Even from day one, even during tryouts, even if I knew some of the players weren’t going to make it, they’ve been very supportive of each other all season long,” said Palarca. “It’s something you can’t really coach.”