Varsity girls’ volleyball puts up tough fight against Branson in riveting five set game

Natalie Welch

Tension circulated throughout the Redwood gymnasium. The fans awaited the game with nervous anticipation as the players warmed themselves up. Roaring chants between Redwood’s and Branson’s student sections echoed around the gym. This past Wednesday, Oct. 20, Redwood faced Branson during the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL’s) volleyball Semi-Finals. The five-set thriller consisted of suspenseful rallies and committed plays, with some players diving into the stands in an effort to keep the ball alive. Unfortunately, the Redwood girls walked away defeated, but undoubtedly put up a good fight.

Standing for the national anthem, the team temporarily conceals their nerves as game time approaches.

With Redwood taking the lead within the first two sets, junior Kaley Matthews, the starting setter, was feeling confident going into the third.

 “We were dominating at the net. We tended to swing hard and [Branson] would have to resort to tipping and roll shooting,” Matthews said. 

Matthews had many successful plays in the first two sets, lining up her hitters to complete some nasty kills. Redwood was in the lead for the entirety of the first two sets, and a shutout was in reach.

Branson was feeling the pressure. Calling four timeouts in the first two sets, they attempted to recover from Redwood’s exceptional plays. However, Branson was able to make a comeback. Entering into the third set, the score was tied 13 to 13 and Redwood started to look  weak. With Branson having a seven point run, senior and libero Sophia Shaw could feel her teammates losing steam. 

“They had a couple good runs on us and we kind of got into a hole that we couldn’t really get out of,” Shaw said. 

Matthews was spirited on the court, high fiving and encouraging her teammates. She could also feel the team’s enthusiasm depleting.  

“Our weaknesses definitely came with our energy, sometimes it lacked and we saw that when [Branson] would go on runs,” Matthews said. 

Although Branson was slowly closing in, Redwood refused to give up. Right side hitter, sophomore Jaden Hendrickson, noticed that her teammates stepped it up in the third set. 

Getting geared up, Jaden Hendrickson is ready to pounce on the ball.

“We put a good block up [throughout the game] and we played really strong,” Hendrickson said.  

But this encouragement was not enough. Branson was able to execute a win in the third and fourth sets, but Redwood never loosened their grip. Each set was even more intense than the last, and the lengthy rallies were nerve wracking for everyone in the gym. 

“There were so many long rallies, [including] one where we all fell to the ground. [Overall], our team’s strengths were on defense as we [played] super scrappy… that’s why the rallies lasted so long,” Shaw said.

As the final set approached, each team prepared as the crowd beamed with excitement.  Straight out of the gate, the scoreboard was tipping back and forth, Redwood securing a point followed by Branson fighting back. On the final point, a shanked ball by Redwood’s defense sent Branson students into a frenzy, rushing onto the court. The final score ended in 15-12, leaving Redwood feeling defeated. 

Although Redwood walked away with a loss, they held their heads up high. Despite the defeat, Matthews was satisfied with her team’s performance.

“I think that we all gave it our all, we played 110 percent. We definitely could have beat them, we have in the past, but it’s respectable that they won,” Matthews said. 

Even though they lost in the MCALS, the team still has the opportunity to win a separate league. Redwood will be moving forward in North Coast Section (NCS), a league where the best teams from the North Coast compete against each other for the winning title. Come support the Redwood girls as they move forward in NCS to see their hard work pay off.