Girls’ volleyball reaches playoffs


Patrick Markey

Senior Captain Elizabeth Sidelnikov goes up for the hit against two Whitman defenders.

Coming off a four game win-streak, and finishing with an 11-3 record on the season, the WJ girls’ volleyball team was primed for success heading into the playoffs. Their first round game came at home against Albert Einstein High School, a team they had already faced, and beat, earlier in the season. The Wildcats’ skills were on display, as they proceeded to show out for their final home game. The girls came out of the gates strong, shellacking the Titans in first set 25-12, then obliterating them the following set 25-5. They would go on to beat Einstein 3-0, leaving their homecourt on a positive note.

Their second round game came against Walt Whitman High School, a team they did not have much success with in the regular season, (losing to them in four sets back in October). With a weekend of preparation, the girls looked to upset their rival Vikings on the road, looking to move on to the semi-finals. As the game began, the Wildcats came out flat. They fell behind quickly in the first set of the game, a deficit they wouldn’t overcome. They lost their first set 25-14, but were able to rally the following set, responding in a 25-20 victory.

Despite their quick response, the girls proceeded to fall 25-17 in the crucial third set, as Whitman looked ready to put an end to the Wildcats season. What followed was an intense and heart-stopping match. The Wildcats started off strong, taking the advantage early, until late in the set where the score was tied at 17. After a few hits, the Wildcats slowly regained the lead, looking to seal the set. After taking the lead 23-21, the Wildcats got a huge block from senior captain Elizabeth Sidelnikov, which was then capped off by another hit from junior Cara Demitz, to take the set 25-22.

After winning the fourth, it came to a sudden-death fifth set, which they lost 15-4. Despite their early exit in the postseason, the volleyball squad was in good spirits, embracing one another, and singing “Happy Birthday” to teammate Lily Navarro.

Sidelnikov weighed in on the final volleyball game of her high school career.

“[Our last game] was tough but we definitely did not give in, playing till the fifth set. I’m proud of what we accomplished for the season and I hope the team continues to grow,” Sidelnikov said.

After the game, senior captain Erin Smulzas weighed in as well on the team’s season, and their progression throughout;

 “The team definitely got better as we made it through the three hour practices during the hot summer and the beginning of the school year,” Smulzas said. “We learned to work together better and to give eachother good feedback and encouragement so that we could all get better.”

The future is bright for WJ girls’ volleyball. With promising underclassmen, and a new coach, the Wildcats are excited to continue their success in 2019.