Girls’ varsity volleyball aces Marin Catholic for first win since 2015

Lauren Poulin

On Friday, Oct. 7th, the girls’ varsity volleyball team played a highly anticipated game against Marin Catholic (MC). Following an extraordinarily competitive game, the Giants prevailed, beating the Wildcats for the first time since 2015 by winning three of the four sets played and pushing their season record to 18-4. 

Marin Catholic, being one of the Giants top rivals, always intensifies tensions during any sports game, but this game in particular had significant implications for Redwood’s standings. Senior Katelyn McKnew has always strived to win against Marin Catholic at one point throughout her high school volleyball career, and would not give up until the Giants won. 

“Since I was a freshman, I have wanted to beat them but we have lost every single year, so it felt really great to finally win. Our hard work has paid off over the years,” McKnew said. 

Junior Jaden Hendrickson was confident in the team’s abilities throughout the game despite past performances against MC, which all resulted in close losses. 

“I knew we had it in us the whole time, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win,” Hendrickson said.

This win did not come without perseverance from everyone on the team during the match. 

“We started off the game really strong but we definitely needed to adjust when MC changed up what they had been doing. We utilized tipping and had to move around a lot on our passing,” McKnew said.

Throughout the first set, both teams were grappling for the higher score and ended the set 26-24. Senior Kaley Mathews utilized her position as a setter in order to confuse MC by tipping the ball over the net instead of constantly setting up a hit. While the score was still tight, these tips were able to disorient MC and help the Giants win the first set. However, during the second set, the Giants were able to gain a substantial lead, leading by five points at parts of the set. With sophomore Ella Moran in the back row consistently passing powerful hits, the girls were able to set senior Emma McDermott up for multiple kills.

Getting ready for the next point, Hendrickson stands in a ready position.

Coach Diamond Hollis was confident before the game due to the amount of effort that the girls have been putting in during practice. She explained that if the girls focused more of their attention and energy on the game rather than the rivalry, they would have a stronger chance of winning.

“For me it was all about the volleyball, and I told the girls that if they made it all about the volleyball then they would get the result that they wanted,” Hollis said.

The team faced their hardest challenge of the game after a loss during the third set. MC had been serving balls to the back corners of the court and back row players struggled to return the serves. The energy of the Redwood student section shifted from excitement to nervousness when MC gained multiple kills by aiming the ball at the outer edge of the court. Despite Moran’s efforts to sprint to every ball, MC prevailed in the set 25-18.

“During the third set I just reminded the girls to breathe. They know what to do, they know the game, and they know how to win,” Hollis said.

Discussing the outcomes of the third set the players ready themselves in order to win the game.

With a losing score at the end of the third set, the Giants were ready to take the fourth set and win the game. In order to achieve their goal of winning against MC the girls needed to calm themselves down and focus on what was to come. Mathews consistently set up McDermott in the outside position to aim her hits towards the edges of the court. Moran as libero, the main passing player on the team, put all of her energy into running and diving for balls so that Mathews could properly aim her sets. McKnew was able to score the game point with a kill to the center of the court, ending the nail-biting match and sending the entirety of the student section onto the court in celebration of the first win against MC in seven years. Coach Hollis was proud of the girls performance during the game and the girls’ ability to lead the team to victory.

“There were quite a few people stepping up as leaders today. Ella Moran was our youngest player out there [and she] calmed our team down in the back row,” Hollis said. 

Throughout the rest of the season, the varsity girls’ volleyball team is looking forward to reaching other milestones, starting with their next game against Branson on Friday, Oct. 14th. 

“The next game is the biggest game for us and will determine if we are going to be first [in the league], so we really need to bring the same mindset that we brought to this game today,” Hollis said.

From a tough scrimmage defeat at the beginning of the season to the biggest victory of the season, the Giants were able to grow together and develop their skills.

“I feel good. I had complete confidence we were going to do it, I just didn’t know how many sets it would take. I am extremely proud of the team,” Hollis said.