Despite dropping the decision three sets to two to the Irvington Vikings, the Santa Clara Bruins played by far their best match of the early season. Their record may show 0-4, but Head Coach Megan Morse-Quevedo was extremely proud of her young squad’s ability to bounce back from down 1-0 and 2-1 to force a deciding fifth set (14-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21, 9-15).
“Today was awesome, they were playing so hard today,” commented the head coach with a beaming smile. “It was the best I have ever seen them play, especially with this new group of girls. Some of them have trouble with confidence and the ones who have had the least confidence [in previous games] had the most confidence today.”
Coach Morse-Quevedo changed up her tactics a bit in this match, as she used versatile star junior Fiona Paul in the libero (defensive-specialist) role. Early on in the first set, the Bruins were struggling offensively, but as the match went on it was clear that Fiona Paul playing in the defensive role was paying off. Led by her impressive digs, teammates like sister and setter Shelby Paul followed suit by getting the offense cranked up. At one point junior Bianca Blandford had three straight forceful kills.
“I think tonight was our best match by far, our first one to five,” noted senior Shelby Paul. “Even though we started out slow, we managed to come back harder than we have in the past. Definitely the highlight of the season thus far.”
The Bruins are a really young team with just three seniors on the roster, so the Paul sisters in particular are being looked upon to be vocal leaders throughout the season. A number of their teammates are making a difficult transition up from junior varsity to varsity. Sophomore Kayla Chew, who delivered a handful of kills against Irvington, is one of those youngers who appreciates having the leadership the Paul sisters bring to the team.
“They help a lot with giving feedback,” chimed Chew. “They really pump everyone up so they can do better and not be afraid to be aggressive, to just play how they want to play.”
Along with lower classmen moving up, coach Morse-Quevedo has a new transfer student—Ria Grewal. The junior noticeably came up with two huge blocks in back-to-back fashion in the fourth set, and added another one later in the match during limited action. Santa Clara doesn’t have much in the way of height on the roster, but Grewal certainly gives the squad a bit of a boost in that area.
“She’s the height that I need right now, so I’m really lucky to have her,” admitted coach Morse-Quevedo. “She had so many blocks today. I see her developing into a really strong hitter and middle blocker.”
The Bruins are set to scrimmage with Silver Creek High School on Thursday, Sept. 7 before opening up league season at home on Sept. 12 against Milpitas.