The varsity boys volleyball team showed the league exactly why they were the champions in emphatic fashion, clinching the El Camino championship title by defeating Fremont High School 3-0 on Friday, May 3.
To say that the Eagles’ run was unexpected would be an understatement. The boys volleyball team was nonexistent a year ago and has battled through inexperience and other adversities throughout its first season. The Eagles found their way quickly and steamrolled through nearly every opponent in the league, ending the season with a record of 11-2 and advancing to the CCS.
This run would be considered impressive even for an experienced team. Factor in the team’s relative inexperience with the sport, and the Eagles’ story is even more remarkable. Only four of the 12 players on the roster had prior club volleyball experience, and players were given little time to form a cohesive team. With athletic backgrounds in a variety of other sports such as water polo, swimming and tennis, one of the biggest challenges of the season was channeling players’ athletic skills into volleyball fundamentals. Another was standing toe-to-toe with more experienced teams. These difficulties presented the team with a minor setback in the beginning of the season, as Los Altos lost four of its first non-league matches and its first league match.
Despite early season obstacles and a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the Eagles’ hard work, determination and team spirit have since come into play to form a well-oiled machine.
“It took a team to accomplish what we did, which goes beyond the seven guys that mostly played this season,” boys volleyball coach David Radford said. “Everyone from the bench to the court made this season possible and enabled us to accomplish so much. It was great that the boys never settled for good volleyball; they focused on improvement. Lastly, the boys never gave up. After being defeat[ed] in our first game the boys did not hang their heads and think the season was over, rather they put their noses to the grind and kept at it.”
The team’s determination and team spirit were put on display in their match against Eastwood Prep early in the season. With senior Ian McColl, one of the team’s key defenders, sitting out the game, Los Altos was hard-pressed out of the gate. Tensions escalated even further when the Eagles lost the decisive fourth set of the game. However, the intense two-and-a-half hour match ended in favor of Los Altos and cemented the Eagles as viable contenders in the league, but not without pushing the team to both mental and physical brink. The Eagles proved their worth in a powerful way, reminding other teams in the league that they were certainly not going to let inexperience hinder their progress.
Further into the season, the Eagles played their league championship game on May 3. Los Altos defeated Fremont High School 3-0, but not without stiff opposition. By the time the second and third sets came around, Fremont’s offense had been gearing up for a comeback — they came within four points of Los Altos in the second set and three points during the third set. The Eagles responded accordingly, shutting Fremont down with “aggressive serves, powerful hits, a sturdy block and a scrappy defense,” according to senior Alex Blackburn.
Despite losing to Homestead in its first CCS playoff game, Los Altos’ performance has only improved throughout the season. Since its last league loss in mid-March, the team has outshined seven teams in nine games, clinched the league championship and qualified for CCS — all in a matter of months.
Even with their playoff run being cut short, the Eagles are optimistic about the season’s achievements and are looking ahead to rebuild the team. Six seniors graduate this year.
“Throughout the season we were able to grow,” sophomore Cesar Mejia said. “It was an honor to play with all of these guys.”