Volleyball wins League Title!
On October 25th, 2022, the Monte Vista Mustangs faced the King City Mustangs for senior night. Thursday prior to the match, Monte Vista played at Pacific Grove for the Breaker’s senior night and the mission division league title. In the first set, the Mustangs were on fire and crushed the Breakers 25-12, but despite having a 20-11 lead in the second, the Breakers came back and tied the game 1-1. Keeping their composure, the Mustangs stayed consistent in the third set and made the game 2-1. However, because they were emotionally and physically exhausted, the Mustangs fell in the fourth set. For a ticket to CCS, the Mustangs needed to win the fifth set nail-biter since their record- which took a blow during the Watsonville and Harbor High tournaments- was not substantial enough to qualify them. In the beginning of the fifth set, the Mustangs were down 7-10. Normally, the first team to reach ten points in the fifth set wins, but the Mustangs were not done yet. With a team effort point and a service ace from Sophomore Right Side Maia Kilinski, the Mustangs brought the score up to 9-10. Then, in the middle of a never ending, grueling rally, the Mustangs had a perfect pass, a ‘buttery’ set from Co-Captin Avery Coleman, and an absolute slam down the line by Sophomore Outside Hitter Elizabeth McCuistion to tie the game 10-10. With the Mustangs playing gritty defense, Outside Elizabeth McCuistion was able to close the game out, serving the next 5 points to claim the Mission Division title. This was the first time since 2013 Mustang Volleyball earned a league title and they did it as a team of hardworking, mostly non-club players.
On the following Tuesday, the Mustangs rematched the King City Mustangs, which was their only league loss so far. Seven seniors were honored for Monte Vista including Outside and Co-Captain Isa Madrigal, Rightside Bentley Stackhouse, Libero Kat Huffman, Middle Blocker Abby Radar, Libero Alex Keldsen, Middle Blocker Sophia Tellez, and team manager Robert Brum. Robert Brum, the ASB President and Homecoming King, was a big part of the volleyball program’s success with his attendance to nearly every game, tournament, and practice to encourage, challenge, and uplift the players since school resumed after COVID. Coach Natile Picone stated that Robert can never or will never be replaced. Beloved CO-Captain Isa Madriga led the team in kills and digs this year and substantially grew the program both last year as a Junior and this year as a Senior. She hopes to continue her volleyball career in college. As for team mom Bently Stackhouse, despite being a setter last year, switched to playing right side this year to enable the Mustangs to run a 6-2 offense (6 hitters, 2 Setters). Her confidence and laughter will be sorely missed. Stepping up from JV last year, Kat Huffman, with her jokes and her fish flops showed up to practice and continually sought to improve her game and uplift her teammates. Although Middle Blocker Abby Radar may be calm in the classroom, she always brought passion and 110% to every game and practice and was definitely the most improved player since the beginning of her junior year. Mainly a soccer player, Alex Keldsen showed that she can do it all this season, playing Libero on varsity this year although she was a setter on JV last year. Finally, cool, calm, and collected middle blocker Sophia Tellez was a consistent rock for the team this year, leading the team in terminal blocks. Each senior accomplished so much this year and will be missed dearly.
After senior walks were made and photos were taken, the game began. Unfortunately, Monte Vista lost the first two sets, but won the third. However, despite having a lead practically the entire set, Monte Vista lost the fourth set to end the match. It was a tough loss. Regardless, the Mustangs had already punched their title into CCS, the first round being on that upcoming Saturday. Getting back to work, the Mustangs had practice the next day. Unfortunately, a virus had been spreading around campus and being at the end of a long season, the player’s immune systems were worn down. Many got sick and a few players stayed home from school and practice on Thursday to try to recover. Despite still being sick the next day, due to both team and school rules, the players had to show up to school and practice, or they were not allowed to play in Saturday’s game. Finally, Saturday arrived and the Mustangs, ceded 10th, headed to the King’s Academy, ceded 6th, in Sunnyvale for the first round of CCS. Although they had a seven point lead towards the end of the first set, the ill Mustangs lost that set and each of the sets following, being swept in three. Afterwards, both teams got together and prayed before leaving, which was well needed. One of the Mustangs had to be carried out of the gym because she was so sick while another developed a severe case of pneumonia. Despite their season ending on a sour note, the Mustangs showed heart this season and made huge accomplishments that will build their program up for future seasons. Next year, Varsity will be filled with mostly juniors coming up from JV since JV thia year was mostly filled with sophomores and Varsity had four sophomores, Maia Kilinski, Maddison Mello, Hailey Gomez, and Elizabeth McCuistion. The many mustangs will continue to train in the weight room and play club volleyball until open gyms begin again in the summer. There is a bright future ahead for the mustangs.
All Photos below of the Mustang’s Senior Night were taken by Peter Miao.