Junior setter Alexa Mathisen dives to get a touch on a free ball from Valley Christian in the varsity girls' match, Sept. 25. The Cavs beat the Valley Christian Lions, 3-0.

Slippery floors, intense heat inside Valley Christian gym don’t stop girls from beating Lions, 3-0

As the girls’ varsity volleyball team began their match (which they won, 3-0) away at Valley Christian on Sept. 25, two SCDS students rushed in from outside.

“It’s cooler outside!” they announced to the bleachers full of SCDS families fanning themselves.

Even though it was 93 degrees outside for most of the match, SCDS fans would watch the game for a couple of minutes and then go outside to “cool off.”

The Lions’ gym had two fans in different corners of the gym and two near the roof, but all those did was blow humid air toward the ground.

“Oh, my God,” said junior Avi Bhullar, who was not played during the match. “It was burning up, and I was just sitting, not doing anything. I can’t imagine what the girls on the court felt.”

Because of the heat, the Cavs did not do their routine dynamic stretches, instead skipping to regular stretching.

Co-coach Sarah Song said that she thought that players were able to easily forget about the heat.

“It’s typically hot in our gym, too, so I think they held up just fine,” Song said. “Most of the girls are able to block out the discomfort to focus on the next play.”

Another problem was a very slippery floor, according to senior Aidan Galati and Song. Song said that she told the girls what her high-school coach had told her about gym floors.

“You can’t change the floor, so you have to make the best of it and work with what you got,” Song said.

“We learned to adjust to it,” Galati said. “I just had to stay on my feet.”

The Lions began with the first serve, but the Cavs got it back in the following play, allowing junior setter Alexa Mathisen a six-point serving run. Valley Christian had more plays where all they did was pass, while the Cavs had three-touch plays almost every time. The Cavs won the sweaty first set, 25-10.

In the second set, the Cavs did not start with as big a lead. The Lions started to get better about stopping the ball and shooting it straight up for the setter, but they passed it too high, giving SCDS time to set up their defense. The Cavs had an 11-point lead for a while and finished their second set drenched in sweat, but victorious, 25-12.

In the third set the Lions made fewer mistakes and the Cavs made more, Galati said. Luckily, the Cavs had several kills, hitting the ball to Valley Christian so that none of the Lions could even touch it. The Cavs were glowing by the end of the third set, both from sweat and from their win, 25-20.

“It was harder to keep our energy up towards the end because the heat can really suck the life out of you,” Galati said.

The Cavs play the Lions again in late October, and the players and coaches have already decided to keep the majority of their strategy exactly the same.

“Honestly, there’s nothing I would do differently,” Galati said. “We had very few critiques from our coaches.”

Song agreed.

“I felt they were really yelling for the first time this season and were working as one unit,” Song said. “It was great seeing them playing tough for each other and with joy.”

Bhullar’s and junior Kaeleigh Valverde’s cheering could be heard from anywhere in the gym at all times. Bhullar said that she became hoarse towards the end but continued to shout anyway.

“Being on the bench is a game in itself,” Bhullar said. “Kaeleigh and I cheer like crazy, and we love it. If the only thing we can do to contribute is cheer, then we will cheer.”

The girls’ next match is the all-day Carmichael Invitational Tournament at Jackson Sports Academy on Saturday, Sept. 26. There will be around 48 teams of varying ability in the Cavs’ pool. Bhullar said girls who do not get played often will get playing time at the tournament.

“It’s going to be a long, long day,” she said.

—By Sonja Hansen

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