Varsity boys volleyball team celebrates senior night, sweeps Saratoga 3-0


Chayce Milheim

Varsity boys volleyball huddles in a group cheer before the game to excite the team. The eagles beat Saratoga High School 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-19.

by Chayce Milheim, Reporter

The varsity boys volleyball team defeated Saratoga High School 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-19 on Senior Night at home last Friday at 6:45 p.m. 

Head coach Zachary Mattson emceed the senior night ceremony, recognizing each senior before calling their families up for a group photo. During the ceremony, younger teammates gave speeches congratulating seniors Kai Due, Andrew Chen, Elvis Han, John Zeng, Raymond Xu, Sujith Pakala and Vishnu Kannan.

“One of the biggest moments of the season was when we beat Campolindo [High School] at the Bellarmine tournament,” Vishnu said. “They were ranked sixth in the nation, had two [Division 1] recruits [and] their whole starting lineup [was over six feet tall]. We’re a relatively small team, so it was a lot of fun to go out and beat them.”

Vishnu started the first set with three consecutive service aces. The Eagles started to lose momentum, and Saratoga tied the game at 15-15. Harker’s momentum started to wane as hits fell just out of their reach. The team persevered with Kyle Johnson (10) scoring the set-winning point off of a block.

The second set began with Harker falling behind, and when the score reached 12-15, Mattson reenergized the team with a speech about strategy during a timeout. The Eagles came out of the break with smoother communication in their blocking and pulled the final score to 25-23. 

Varsity team member Aaron Guo (9) reflected on the team’s growth this season as well as how he quickly found acceptance among his older peers.

“I think our team has grown a lot [even though] we have a lot of players [in] their first season playing volleyball,” Aaron said. “I’ve been a club player for a couple years now, so I’m a little bit more experienced, but I think all our new players have gotten a lot better this season.” 

In the third set, the goal differential was never beyond four points, but as the game went on the Eagles’ defense began to decline. Mattson called for another timeout halfway through when the score was 12-16. Unlike the second set, the team was unable to close the gap, ending the set with a final score of 21-25.

Harker made a comeback in the fourth set as they quickly pulled ahead and ended the set with a score of 25-19. According to varsity team captain Tyler Beede (11), the atmosphere in the gym, both from the team and the spectators, helped maintain the players’ intensity.

“I think the strength that we had [for this game] was bringing all the energy that we had,” Tyler said. “Even the crowd was joining in. It was a really fun experience with all our seniors out there at possibly the last game [of the season].”

During this season, the seniors became mentors to their younger teammates. Aaron found the transition into varsity as smooth and enjoyable.

“[The seniors] taught me [that] it’s mostly [about] my mental game when I’m not playing the best,” Aaron said. “They’re always there to lift [us] up.” 

Prior to the varsity game, the junior varsity boys volleyball team beat Saratoga in two sets. The team started off strong with Jack Shen (10) gaining points with his serves, but the score was tied a couple minutes in. The team still pulled their strategy together with a few good plays and ended the set at 25-22. 

The second set started similarly to the first, with the score beginning in a tie of 1-1. The team briefly fell behind, but after a battle against Saratoga for points, they ended the set with a hit, the score 25-17. 

“[W]e definitely pulled through in the end,” junior varsity team member Leo Sobcyzn (9) said. “[We need to work] on maturity and focus level during practice and during games.”

The varsity team won their first CCS match against Prospect on Monday 25-21, 25-23, 25-9 but lost their quarterfinal game in three sets to Carmel on Tuesday, so they will not continue on to semifinals. Regardless, the team appreciated the opportunity to celebrate their seniors and qualify for CCS.