Seniors shine in easy Homecoming victory over Buckingham Charter

Kevin Huang
Per tradition, seniors Isabelle Leavy, Alexa Mathisen and Kaeleigh Valverde received baskets of gifts from the rest of the varsity team on senior night.

Seniors with boxes of autographed volleyballs, roses and cards in hand. A parent’s announcer’s voice calling out the girls’ names. Elated fans cheering in the stands.

Although not some of Julie Andrews’s favorite things, all of these were part of the Cavs’ combined Homecoming and senior night victory, 3-0, against the Buckingham Charter Knights, Oct. 14.

And according to the girls, it could not have been a more perfect night.

“I would say that game was by far one of the best I’ve ever played,” senior Kaeleigh Valverde said.

“It was high energy, and it seemed like the perfect way to enter the end of my high-school volleyball career.”

“We were really together,” sophomore Lia Kaufman said. “There were a lot of good passes, sets and hits.”

“I’m also so glad that a lot of the seniors got to play tonight, because it was their night.”

They didn’t just play; seniors Alexa Mathisen, Valverde and Isabelle Leavy shone.

“The seniors who started and were put in new positions played well,” sophomore Heidi Johnson said.

Kevin Huang
Senior Kaeleigh Valverde sets a ball while sophomore Lia Kaufman and junior Katia Dahmani watch.

Seniors that don’t usually serve as much often served overhand.

“The three seniors played phenomenally,” coach Sarah Song said.

“They started every set, and we ended the game with the three of them all on the floor.”

Mathisen said she loved this, as it allowed her to play with her “best friends.”

The large Homecoming crowd also contributed to their victory.

“There’s nothing I love more than playing at school and seeing and hearing all the kids of all different grades cheering and getting excited,” Mathisen said.

In addition, Geoff Margolis, father of freshman Jackson and seventh-grader Dylan, commentated during the game.

“He just brings energy, and the girls get so excited hearing their names and their plays,” Song said.

And everything seemed to be on that night.

Kevin Huang
Fifth graders Kaitlyn Dias and Harper Livesey sing the national anthem before the varsity game.

“We really didn’t struggle with anything; passes, sets and serves were all on,” Kaufman added.

“The defense was so tight,” Song said.

“We were great at picking up balls, not letting them drop on our side.”

And even though the Cavs had crushed the Knights in their Sept. 20 game, Johnson explained that the girls couldn’t assume anything, or put their guards down.

“We’ve already played them once, but you never know,” Johnson said.

“We couldn’t just go on cruise control, but we were confident in ourselves as a team.”

Song added that although the Cavs beat them, the Knights aren’t too different from the Valley Christian Lions, who narrowly defeated the Cavs on Oct. 13.

“They’re both very competitive teams,” Song said.

“But I think the energy’s different because we’re home; we have refs that are calling proper shots.”

The seniors, including Leavy,  said they could feel the energy.

“I played outside, which I’ve never done before,” Leavy said. “And all the girls were telling me what to do when I needed help.”

Leavy said that she felt this game allowed her to reflect on how her skills have developed in the last two years.

Kevin Huang
Senior Alexa Mathisen holds her cousin while junior Annya Dahmani gives senior Kaeleigh Valverde a basket of gifts after the game during the senior night speeches.

“I’ve improved,” Leavy said with a satisfied smile, sweat still on her forehead.

“I’m proud to be on the team that I’m on. I couldn’t ask to be on a team with more supportive teammates.”

Even in the midst of an amazing night, there were still tinges of pain for some seniors.

“It was really bittersweet,” Mathisen said.

“Going on my recruiting visits and seeing college volleyball programs has been making me very excited to experience a different level of volleyball, but the other night I realized how much I would miss this.”

Mathisen recounted her fond memories of seeing her family, and in a way her Country Day family, made up of excited little kids and pumped-up high schoolers.

“After this season that’ll never happen again,” Mathisen added.

“With my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin there, I was so happy to play for them. I’m really going to miss that if I go to college outside of California.”

Valverde said the reality of this being their last game pushed them.

“The fact that it was the end was in my mind the whole game,” Valverde sad.

“But I was having so much fun that I was too happy to care. It only motivated me to play harder.”

Although there are only three weeks left in the seniors’ high-school volleyball careers, Song implored the girls to “come back and scrimmage when (they’re) in college.”

Kevin Huang
Surrounded by her parents, senior Isabelle Leavy listens to sophomore Bella Mathisen’s speech about her on senior night.

By Chardonnay Needler

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