BY ALISON CHURCH
On Tuesday October 24th, the Benicia High School Volleyball team mustered all their strength as they went up against one of the toughest teams they’ve faced. Berean Christian Highschool paid a visit to Benicia to experience everything they had to offer, and both team’s competitive spirit made for an intense and exciting experience for the audience. In both the JV and Varsity matches, the competitive air between the teams could be felt hovering in the gym and in the looks of the eyes of the players.
First up to play was the JV team who impressed Benicia’s audience right from the start. Although the Berean JV team put up a good fight, they were ultimately no match for the skilled group Benicia had to offer. Benicia won with ease and enthusiasm during both sets with a winning score of 25-13 and 25-15. Although the other team did not come close to the winning score of 25 points, the JV game was nonetheless a satisfying and fun game to watch for the audience.
Finally, the Varsity game began. Benicia and Berean played a total of 3 close games with the objective of scoring 25 points and winning 3 out of 5 matches. Set 1 was the only set that both went into overtime and even tied during the later half of the game, making for an intense opener and foreshadowing how close the following games would be. Benicia ended up winning the first set with a score of 26-24. One of the senior players, Molly Dwayne, who has now been playing competitively for 8 years, stated in an interview that, “at the beginning of the season, our chemistry was rocky and we had a lot of issues trusting each other, but through all the hours we’ve put in working with each other in different scenarios in practice, our chemistry has definitely strengthened and our communication skills have greatly improved.” The communication was definitely effective between Benicia’s players, for even in the toughest challenges which Molly Dwayne stated was “the other team’s block” due to the other team’s tall front row. Yet, the Benicia players were still able to make adjustments and keep fighting until the end. In order to make adjustments to these challenges Molly had to hit around, through, and off the block to increase her coverage of the other hitters. Although they went into overtime in set 1, Molly reports that there was no point that she thought their team would lose the entire game. Even though the first and second set made the entire Benicia team nervous; “We all stayed optimistic and believed in our team to pull through,” Molly recalled.
The second set in the game also won by Benicia with a close finishing score of 25-23 and was no less adrenaline rushing than the first. One of their senior players Sydney Lee was most impressed by the team’s ḧard work and determination to win, which was part of the reason why the rallies throughout all three sets lasted so long. An unexpected challenge Sydney recalled facing was how ̈Berean Christian put up a good unexpected defense and blocks. We had to work together to keep a lead on them so that they couldn’t get ahead,” which Benicia carried into their final set as well.
One of the biggest highlights in the final set was Molly Dwayne’s final spike which won Benicia the winning point, totalling their score to a close 25-19. Sydney Lee recalls that during the final moments of the game, ̈ I felt proud because I realized that we secured the winning spot out of the whole league.̈ It’s safe to say that the audience left that night thoroughly impressed by what they saw. The Benicia Panther Volleyball team pushed themselves to give their best winning performance that night, and proved that their hours of dedication and patience to the sport that they love truly paid off.