Triumphant, head coach Zachary Mattson holds the trophy of the varsity boys volleyball team’s Central Coast Section Division Two victory against Carmel High School on May 13. (Brandon Zau)
Triumphant, head coach Zachary Mattson holds the trophy of the varsity boys volleyball team’s Central Coast Section Division Two victory against Carmel High School on May 13.

Brandon Zau

Varsity boys volleyball wins CCS Championship, sweeps every game in three sets

May 21, 2023

The varsity boys volleyball team won the championship match 25-17, 25-21, 25-21 against Carmel High School on May 13 at Saint Francis High School, earning first place in Division Two of the Central Coast Section (CCS).

The team also dominated their first two matches, defeating Saratoga High School 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 in the quarterfinals on May 9 and Harbor High School 25-8, 25-14, 25-12 in the semifinals on May 11.

The team concluded the season with a record of 8-7 in league and 21-15 overall.

Varsity boys volleyball defeats Carmel 25-17, 25-21, 25-21 to win CCS Division Two title


Margaret Cartee

Co-Captain Tyler Beede (12) holds the CCS plaque and poses with the varsity boys volleyball team. This year marks the third time the varsity boys volleyball team has won CCS.

In the first set of the championship game, Harker and Carmel started out even, each side earning kills and placing tips until 9-9, when the Eagles blocked two swings in a row, causing Carmel to falter and call a timeout at 13-9. Harker continued to control the set, with multiple kills by co-captain and outside hitter Zachary Blue (11) and opposite hitter Spencer Mak (11) forcing a Carmel timeout at 21-14. The Eagles finished the match with energy, racking up more kills and blocks against Carmel before the set ended at 25-17.

“After […] we were hitting out a lot or getting blocked a ton, our coach talked to us about swinging towards the edges,” Spencer said. “After that, we had a lot of hits that were at the edges, and that was something to be really proud of.”

Carmel started the second set with the serve, but quickly lost their footing after kills from middle blocker Rahul Yalla (10) and Spencer, which brought the score to 6-2. After a series of missed serves and hitting errors from the Eagles, the Padres began catching up, putting more pressure at the net and challenging Harker’s defense with powerful jump topspin serves. At 12-12, Harker called a timeout and began regaining momentum, but the score still remained close. After a block from setter Adrian Liu (11) at 19-18, Carmel called a timeout. Harker closed the match 25-21 with three blocks and two kills, silencing Carmel’s crowd going into the third set.

The Eagles dominated the final set, with outside hitter Aaron Guo (10) stacking up two kills and a stuff block early on in the match. The Padres called a timeout at 6-1, but the Eagles continued to bombard them with more kills, four from Zachary and three from Aaron. At 17-8, the Padres started catching up, earning a kill and a block, so Harker responded with a timeout at 17-11. Carmel continued earning points with a strong server; however, Zachary ended their streak with a kill, causing the Padres to call a timeout at 20-15. Carmel fought back and scored multiple kills, but ultimately, the Eagles took the final set, sealing the championship game 25-21 with a kill from Aaron. Head Coach Zachary Mattson congratulated the team on winning and praised their performance this season.

“These boys really stepped into the roles and stepped up big time to be able to come together as a whole as a team and as individuals,” Mattson said.

After the game, the team received the CCS Division Two plaque and celebrated the win by taking photos together with their medals. Previously, the team won CCS in 2019 and 2021, both times in Division Three.

“First of all, Tyler, Aaron, Carlo and Johnny — we’re going to miss you a lot,” Spencer said. “I honestly don’t know what we’d do without them; they bring so much energy on the court and on the bench as well. And honestly, [this was] one of the best seasons ever.”

The varsity boys volleyball team lost their away game against Bishop O’Dowd High School in Round One of the Northern California championships on May 16 19-25, 19-25, 23-25.

Varsity boys volleyball team shuts out Harbor 25-8, 25-14, 25-12


Margaret Cartee

Adrian Liu (11) sets Rahul Yalla (10), earning a kill against Harbor High school in their match on May 11. Adrian’s favorite play of the game was his attack on the second contact at the end of the third set.

The varsity boys volleyball team crushed Harbor High School 25-8, 25-14, 25-12 in the semifinals on May 11 at home.

Harker started off strong over the Pirates and scored many points through a combination of kills and Harbor’s errors, progressing the score to 8-1. Harker stumbled a bit, with Harbor earning a couple of points on a freeball and a block, but the Eagles quickly resumed their previous pace, with two stuff blocks by middle blocker Edis Mesic (11) propelling Harkers’ lead to 18-6. The Eagles easily finished the set out with kills from Spencer and Zachary, concluding the match 25-8.

Harker, picking up from the former set, scored kill after kill early on to start the second . Later on, they made some unforced errors in the match which helped Harbor shorten the score gap. Harker managed to hold a lead over the Pirates, with notable plays going to Aaron, who earned four kills within the span of six points, bringing the score to 15-7. At 17-10, Harbor called a timeout after serving out of bounds but was unable to put a stop to the Eagles’ momentum. Though Harbor made a late push with a couple of kills, Harker led the final stretch of the game, shutting out the Pirates 25-14 in a four-point scoring run marked by a kill and a block from Edis, a setter dump from Adrian and a kill from Aaron.

Harker and Harbor stayed even at the beginning of the third and final set due to both teams missing serves and swings. The Eagles started taking control of the set after 7-5, building up a stable lead through a tip kill from Edis and a block from Rahul. The Pirates called a timeout at 12-6, and after, Harker continued to dominate the match with kills from Rahul, Aaron, Spencer and Edis, catapulting the score to 19-9. Edis also earned two more kills in the match, one on a tip and the other on a swing, and Adrian scored a significant point on a surprise setter swing on the second contact, upping the score to 24-12. Aaron closed the game 25-12 with a kill.

“We expected to have a tougher competition, but when we didn’t have that big challenge, it was a little bit tough to be focused and play good volleyball all of the time,” Adrian said. “Especially in some of the third set, we were breaking down; we were just messing around a little bit, and I think that was reflected in the score. But near the end, we were able to play good volleyball.”

Varsity boys volleyball team defeats Saratoga 25-17, 25-16, 25-22


Margaret Cartee

Adrian Liu (11) reaches up to save the ball from going over the net during the quarter finals match against Saratoga High School on May 9. The varsity boys volleyball team won their match against Saratoga in three sets, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22.

The varsity boys volleyball team bested Saratoga High School in three sets, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22 in the quarterfinals at home on May 9.

At the start of the first set, the Eagles and the Falcons exchanged kills, going point for point until Harker gained an early edge at 9-5 with a block by Edis and Spencer and missed swings from Saratoga. The Eagles continued putting pressure on the Falcons, with two kills each from Edis and Aaron, forcing a Saratoga timeout at 13-7. The Falcons were unable to make a comeback, and Harker maintained the lead with kills from Zachary, Spencer and Edis, bringing the final score to 25-17.

“Everyone was really hyped even though the crowd was breathing on us a bit,” Rahul said. “With our crowd and our own players we challenged them.”

Seniors Alexis Nishimura, BB Ajlouny and Sara Wan cheer for the varsity boys volleyball team on the May 9 game against Saratoga High School. The Harker and Saratoga crowds frequently exchanged cheers and chants in between sets. (Margaret Cartee)

Harker led the start of the second set, with two roofs from the Eagles and multiple hitting and serving errors from Saratoga that helped Harker push ahead. At 9-3, the Falcons called a timeout and slowly narrowed the Eagles’ advantage, bringing the score up to 17-14. However, Harker made a late offensive push, earning four kills and a block to end the set 25-16. Overall, Mattson was proud of the game and the team’s consistency.

“Our errors were [minimal]; we didn’t let the crowd get to us,” Mattson said. “We kept the momentum on our side, and when we had a couple of lulls, we got out of them pretty quickly.”

Once again, Harker took the lead in the beginning of the third set, progressing to 7-3 due to four kills from the Eagles and Saratoga’s missed swings. The Eagles kept up this momentum, securing two kills each from Aaron and Rahul, and advanced the score to 12-7. Harker then made a series of unforced errors and called a timeout at 15-13. After the timeout, the Eagles and Falcons went back and forth, keeping the score even until 18-17, when Saratoga also started making mistakes, eventually leading them to call a timeout at 21-17. The Falcons came out with a stronger offense, but because Harker already held a lead, they were able to narrowly beat out Saratoga, concluding the quarterfinals game 25-22 with a kill from Spencer.

“I’m excited if we can keep winning games and just have really good moments with the team,” Zachary said. “It’s really exciting getting the crowd hyped and also getting the team those points.”

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