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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Volleyball eliminated in heartbreaker vs Churchill

Junior+Stella+Lichter+spikes+the+ball+against+Gaithersburg.+The+team+won+the+match+3-0%2C+but+went+on+to+be+defeated+once+again+at+the+hands+of+Churchill.
Jeremy Silberglied
Junior Stella Lichter spikes the ball against Gaithersburg. The team won the match 3-0, but went on to be defeated once again at the hands of Churchill.

The Cats’ volleyball team finished their season Monday, at the hands of their rivals who have been their kryptonite over the past few years. Their regional semifinal game against the Churchill Bulldogs ended with a 3-1 defeat, ending their season. The team went 9-5 in the regular season and beat Gaithersburg 3-0 at home in the first round of the playoffs.

Against Gaithersburg, the Cats proved they were the dominant team on both their serving and their serve returns.

“I think our serve-receive went really well, we were able to get a bunch of passes up to our setter. And we put the ball all over the place, so we were able to get kills in a bunch of different ways,” junior Claire Kuemerle said.

In the first set of the match, WJ rolled out to a 6-2 lead to start the game. They would finish the set strong, with a commanding 25-9 set win.

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“I think our serving went well, we hardly missed any serves. We got a lot of aces, too,” junior Anabelle Kehoe said.

The second set seemed a bit more even, but WJ still won 25-16. WJ also was dominant in the third set, and the Cats went on to win the set 25-14 to win the game 3-0.

With the win, the Cats advance to the second round of the playoffs to take on Churchill. The Cats knew coming into the game that it would be a challenging semifinal game. WJ has not beaten Churchill since November 2018 and had lost six straight matches against Churchill. In that span, the Bulldogs maintained a 21-5 set record against WJ.

“Our serve-receive [had] to be spot on, they’re a very very good defensive team. So we [needed] to be able to pass in order to run our offense,” head coach Jackie Krampf said.

The first set of the match proved just that, and the Bulldogs pounced at the Cats early on, taking a 17-4 lead. Churchill went on to capitalize on the Cats’ mistakes and dominated the set 25-9.

Despite the first-set blowout, the Cats showed some positive signs early on in the second set. This set was a much different story than the first set, and it was a fairly even set this time. But once again, Churchill won the set 25-22.

With WJ facing elimination in the third set, Churchill broke ahead 23-17, putting them on the brink of winning the set and the match, even garnering a match point at 24-2.. But miraculously, the Cats kept winning key points, and they ended up winning the set 27-25 to force a fourth set.

Early on in the fourth set, it yet again was an even contest that saw both teams exchange point streaks. After starting out as a fairly even set, Churchill would go on a six-point run midway through the set to go ahead 19-13. WJ would quickly go and tie it back up again 21-21, and it would remain back and forth leading to a tied set at 26-26. In the end, though, Churchill got the final two points that they needed and won the tight set 28-26 to seal their victory. It was a very tough loss for the Cats.

“After the first set we really got the nerves out and started playing well, and we really stepped up and played them tough. Churchill has such great defense, we get excited about getting a nice kill, and then the ball’s up and we’ve got to try and do it all over again. So I’m really proud [of the way we played] and I thought they just did a great job fighting so hard against a very talented team,” Krampf said.

Despite the loss, the Cats ended the game in good spirits and were proud of the way they played.

“I think everyone played really well, especially after the first set. Obviously the first set we got crushed, but after everyone started getting motivated and started getting kills we knew there was a chance to come back. Everyone worked hard to try and get that win,” freshman Misha Anderson said.

The team knows how hard they’ve been working all season long, and felt they finished off the year on a high note.

“I feel really good. We got really badly crushed in the first set, but I think everyone had some sort of vengeance in them and we came back and we wanted to win. Everyone was hustling all over the court to get everything up. I thought it was a great turnout and a great [way to honor] our season and how hard we’ve been working,” junior Stella Lichter said.

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Jeremy Silberglied, Staff Writer
Sophomore Jeremy Silberglied is thrilled to be in his first year with the Pitch as a Staff Writer. Jeremy is also his grade's class treasurer, and he loves playing sports in his free time.
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