By Justine Ha, Tabitha Mendez and Collin Qian
On Oct. 29, the MVHS girls varsity volleyball team walked into the gym for the final time for the season. The night was at high stakes for the Matadors as they were hoping to finally clinch their first league win of the season against Los Altos HS. But, above all else, it was senior night — a night to celebrate the seniors on the team in their final high school game, which include players Anumita Alur, Anusha Pothineni, Jiani Tian and Divya Suresh.
When the senior night game commenced, there was strong gameplay from both teams with back and forth rallying that kept the score tied. Despite this, LAHS pulled ahead of the Matadors for the remaining first set due to consistent long serving runs and resilient defense. This led LAHS to win the first set, ending with the score 25-11.
With this desirable start for the opponents, LAHS maintained strong offense and defense throughout the whole game which eventually assisted them to lead sets two and three. The Matadors ended up losing the match to LAHS with a final score of 3-0, with sets two and three having a final score of 25-16.
Coach Colin Anderson describes the “goofy” atmosphere senior night creates, which usually results in losses and sloppy game play. Regardless of the loss, Anderson appreciates the atmosphere senior night creates for the players on the team. As it was the last game of the season and the last high school game for the seniors on the team, Anderson values the close relationships all team members had created with the seniors to create a memorable moment in their high school careers.
“I really appreciate the sincere love that the non-seniors have [for the] seniors,” Anderson said. “Those statements [during the ceremony] are not fake drama and we're not like, ‘who can only cry the most?’ but it's just there's a lot of real [emotions] that comes out of the seniors. I thoroughly appreciate that and [it’s great] to see how the relationships are formed [on this team].”
When asked about senior Divya Suresh’s feelings about senior night, all she remembers was her freshman year when the seniors were celebrating their final game. Suresh reflects on her time on the volleyball team as she’s now the senior of the team who will be moving on from high school into future endeavors.
“You just never imagine yourself being a senior and having your own senior night,” Suresh said. “Even until before the game started I was like, ‘Woah this my own senior night’ … and then it finally happened so I was like, ‘This is kind of crazy.’”
Suresh highlights the team’s persistent presence of spirit during the moments of highs and lows that kept her to continue to play. Due to that spirit always at hand, Suresh was able to persist during tough times, including an ACL tear she had endured through early on this season.
“There's just so much spirit [present] in the team and it's just so comforting,” Suresh said. “[They’re like] your family and so it's awesome... We just faced everything together as a family [through all the] wins and losses.”
While reflecting on her time on the team, Suresh hopes that the underclassmen on the team will be able to cherish every moment as she notes how fast time moves.
“[Everything] goes by really fast so just enjoy every moment of it,” Suresh said. “The seasons suddenly over every year, and then suddenly it's like your last season and you're like, Whoa, like, that's it for MVHS volleyball for me so just enjoy every second.”
Unlike other seniors on the volleyball team, senior Anusha Pothineni has plans to further continue her volleyball career in college — towards the end of her junior year, Pothineni had committed to play division three volleyball for New York University. Despite this, she still has mixed feelings about the ending of her high school volleyball volleyball career.
“It's [a] bittersweet [feeling] because I'm moving on and playing more [volleyball in college], so it's not the end,” Pothineni said. “But, I'm sad to leave behind all of my little juniors, sophomores and freshmen [at MVHS]. I know that they'll grow and get better [as volleyball players].”
Pothineni has been a member of the MVHS varsity girls volleyball team for her entire high school career, and has learned many valuable lessons on the way that will help her grow and succeed when she does continue playing at the collegiate level.
“It's really important to make sure that you bond with your team and that you're respectful to your [them],” Pothineni said. “Just foster a good environment on the team because no one's going to be successful if someone's dictating someone on the team.”
Pothineni advises the younger players on the team to have confidence in their own self as a player on the court, as many younger players may look up to Pothineni as a role model in the volleyball community, she uses her guidance in hopes to encourage them to believe in themselves.
“Respect the opinions of others on your team, but also don't be afraid to voice your own opinion,” Pothineni said. “If you feel like something isn't going right or something could be better, you're not going to lose anything if you provide your input.”
Four years ago, senior Anumita Alur walked into the MVHS gym as a freshman and earned a spot on the varsity girls volleyball team. Four years later, Alur played her last game for the Matadors. Reflecting on all her years, she values each year as its own as she felt the drastic changes in each of her years.
“I'm ... really sad because I've been on varsity for four years now and it's the end of an era,” Alur said. “Just [to] see how every year has been so different for me in terms of like my team dynamic or even my teammates it's just been so different.”
Looking back at this year’s season, Alur felt that although the season could be seen as a success, she wished that they could’ve won the last game.
“I guess we ended the season off on a somewhat good note even though we lost the last game — it's been a really good season,” Alur said.
The fact that this was the last game the seniors will ever play for MVHS was something that was hard for Alur to process during her game.
“[My high school volleyball career] has just come to an end just like mind blowing — I don't have another season next year so yeah, a lot of mixed feelings,” Alur said.
Initially senior Jiani Tian believed that she would be happy after her senior year season ended due to more time she would have for other activities. But, she came to realize how big her high school volleyball career had impacted her life after the season has come to an end.
“As the season ended, I find myself missing practices and games a lot,” Tian said. “I think the end of season this year affected me a lot more because as a senior, it’s truly the end of a huge chapter of my life.”
Upon further reflection of her high school volleyball journey, she explains the friendships she was able to foster during her time on the team. She comments on the special bond the MVHS varsity volleyball team had as a whole.
“My volleyball teammates were also some of my best friends, and the bonds [we have] are so special because we are a team of friends more than just a team of volleyball players,” Tian said. “I felt so loved and appreciated on the team, and I don't think that bond is present in many other teams [in high school].”
With the amount of experience she has as a volleyball player and as a long term member of the varsity team, Tian hopes that underclassmen in future teams will not only learn to foster these special bonds with their teammates, but also learn to communicate with everyone who is apart of the team.
“I would tell the underclassmen to learn to communicate with teammates, coaches and teachers,” Tian said. “Especially as student athletes, it's so important to be able to sort out their priorities, which is impossible without communicating and letting teachers or the coach know about your situation.”