Three set victory against Tam leads girls’ varsity volleyball to championship game

Erica Block

Following an incredible win against San Rafael on Friday, Oct. 15, the undefeated girls’ varsity volleyball team played in their first Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) match, on Wednesday, Oct. 19. They continued their success streak beating Tam in three sets. 

During the first set, both teams battled neck and neck until Redwood was able to secure a definite lead. Redwood initially struggled with their serve receive, as Tam’s strong servers intensely confronted Redwood’s back row. However, Redwood was able to adjust their game plans and grow their lead as a result of well executed digs and kills. Varsity volleyball coach, Diamond Hollis, attributes part of their win to the loud energy of the players, specifically junior Jaden Hendrickson. Hendrickson was able to rack up 15 kills, only a minor representation of the range of dynamic plays exhibited by the Giants.

[Hendrickson] was a big contributor- as far as energy levels go – she brought it. She had a lot of great swings, and was basically untouchable tonight. She brought our team energy up which then trickled down to other players, and even motivated some people off the bench to get good swings in as well,” Coach Hollis said. 

Aces by Katelyn McKnew and Hendrickson were able to build momentum on  Redwood’s side, giving the team strength to push through and win the first set 25 to 20. The set ended with a powerful kill by senior Kate Giang. Giang points the success of the first set to their fast offense, a combination of good team communication and will to chase after the uncoordinated passes. 

Smiling after an ace, senior Kate Giang prepares for the next serve.

“We did a really good job of playing fast and aggressive when the other side wasn’t necessarily doing the same. Keeping our speed of the game was really crucial to our win. I think beating their block was a huge component of securing a solid victory” Giang said. 

In the second set, the Giants had great communication on the court, with some especially inspiring perseverance from Emma McDermott, who dove over the bench to get the ball over the net. The Giants were able to maintain a subtle but consistent lead. With the help of sophomore Ella Moran, who consistently passed forceful hits from Tam, the girls were able to set Hendrickson and McDermott up for multiple kills. Senior Lola Folk comments on the importance of maintaining high energy during the game, despite playing a team that may not have matched their abilities. 

“In our [pre-game] huddle we were talking about how we weren’t going to underestimate them, we were going to come in with the same amount of energy and I think we did. The sidelines are really crucial in energy levels, especially when we don’t have big crowds,” Folk said.  “Getting a lot of cheers, keeping the positivity and keeping it light on the court has a huge impact on how we play. Volleyball is such a mental sport, if you’re not feeling great mentally, you’re not going to play well.” 

Walking across the court after a block, junior Jaden Hendrickson is ready to receive.

The Giants entered the third set focused and determined, with some especially powerful offensive plays from Hendrickson, on both the left and right side. The team was consistently able to get the ball up in the air, allowing Tam to make notable errors. Even after a long homecoming week and recent game on Friday, the Redwood side found the drive to put their hearts on the court in their first playoff game. Coach Hollis reflects on the tenacious mindset of the players. 

“We mistakenly came into this game knowing we would sweep them so the energy started a little softer or flat. However, by the second set, I think we pulled it together, considering we have a lot of injuries and achy bodies. For them to push through and still come out and [chase] down balls left and right, showed they were able to persevere and are willing to play through anything” Coach Hollis said. 

On Friday, Oct. 21, the Giants will face Branson for the MCAL title.