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Eagles Serve the Knights UPA girls' JV and varsity volleyball win against rival Saint Thomas More.

I wanted to win for myself, my team, coach, and everyone that came to watch, especially on a Tuesday Night," Number 9 junior Jordyn Roberson said, Varsity co-captain.

In the 2018-2019 season, girls' varsity volleyball won the league championship in a convincing fashion, seemingly breezing through most teams except for one. Clad in navy with crosses on their uniforms, Saint Thomas More's (STM) team is regarded as not only UPA's rivals but also their equals in competitive play. On September 17th, the first competitive game of the season would be a trail by fire for UPA, as STM arrived to Canoas Garden Avenue to play the Eagles on their home court.

STM was the only challenge we had in order to win league [last year]. We only beat them in tourneys," number 4 senior Annie Zhang said, Varsity.

The night began with JV playing against STM's light blue counterpart at 5:30pm.

Although the first set ended in a 17-25 loss, the JV team won the second and third sets through strong serves at 25-14 and 15-9 respectively, securing the win.

[Saint thomas more] was DIFFICULT to beat, but everyone worked together and supported each other," number 26 freshman symone wuthenow said, junior varsity.
Fun Fact: The coach for the JV Team, Esther Chen, is also one of UPA's math teachers.

Soon after the JV match ended, the gym floor cleared for both Saint Thomas More and UPA's varsity teams to practice. Faculty members such as history teacher Steve Guevara and campus supervisor Jess Torres assisted the team with their practice in the 30 minute time frame allotted. The varsity match would begin at 7:30 p.m., drawing in a sizable crowd from Saint Thomas More which only added pressure to the Eagles.

Friends and family from Saint Thomas More come into the gym to cheer and chant during rallies and serves.
THEIR CHOIR OF BOYS [was] SO ANNOYING," ZHANG said.
Girls varsity prepare for their match against Saint Thomas More at 7:30 p.m.

The next match between the varsity girls would be one of the most anticipated and feared games of the season. Similar play styles, similar skill sets, and the 'choir of boys' combined would prove to be a mental wall the Eagles, coached by Director of Technology Tom Guevara, would have to climb if they wished to beat STM's older, navy clad counterpart. The gym slowly began to fill with STM fans and UPA fans alike, until the scoreboard would begin to count down from 30 minutes to game time.

Saint Thomas More always gives us a good game," Roberson said.
(From left to right) Laura Cunha-Vaz (12), Padma Bellamkonda (11), and Annie Zhang (12) wait for the game to start.

The first two sets would prove to be the hardest for the Eagles.

With both sick and injured teammates, UPA attempted to push through their adversaries yet were unable to obtain leads early on. The first set ended 17-25 in favor of the Knights, and the second set played out nearly identical, with UPA losing 19-25.

Now with the scoreline 0-2 and the cheers of STM families growing louder, the chances of winning became slim, but the hope stayed alive through sheer determination.

i felt DISAPPOINTED. I know my team is capable, but it is very rare to win a match when the opposing team has MOMENTUM and a lead of 2," roberson said.
I TRIED NOT TO THINK ABOUT IT TOO MUCH AND I HARDLY LOOKED AT THE SCORE. I KNEW WE COULD BEAT THEM IF WE FOCUSED AND COMMUNICATED MORE," ZHANG SAID.

However, the Eagles managed to gain a five point lead in the third set and go on to win 25-17, bringing the score 1-2, one set win from tying the score and one set loss from losing the match entirely. There were still a long twenty minutes ahead.

Senior Meghana Bellum gets into defensive stance whild Zhang prepares to serve in the 3rd set.
AFTER HAVING A FIVE POINT LEAD IN THE THIRD SET, I KNEW MY TEAM COULD TAKE THE MATCH," ROBERSON said.

The fourth set was stolen by UPA convincingly 25-12, tying the score at 2-2.

The final set involved chants and cheers from both UPA's small crowd and the entourage of Saint Thomas More, where the winner would be decided by the first team to reach 15 points.

IT WAS REALLY LOUD, ESPECIALLY WHEN WE WERE DOWN. [SAINT THOMAS MORE FANS] KEPT CHANTING [...] WHICH MAKES US ANXIOUS TO GET THE POINT BACK," ZHANG said.
knowing that the last set would only be to 15 points, every point mattered," roberson said.
Excitement grew on the Eagles' side as they gained momentum in the fifth set.
MY TEAM FOUGHT HARDER THAN EVER, BECAUSE WE WANTED IT MORE THAN ANYTHING," ROBERSON said.
Winning moment against Saint Thomas More (3-2)

Eventually, after two long hours, the Eagles scored their 15th point to conclude the set at 15-13 and win the game over the Knights 3-2, completing the comeback against their toughest opponent in the league.

The UPA crowd cheers during final set.
I think us winning came as a SURPRISE to them," zhang said.
Varsity Eagles begin the season 1-0 and triumph over their rivals early on.

In the match, Sophomore Mia Guevara acquired the top ratings in her team, scoring 30 points with 4 aces against the Knights.

I didn't expect to come back from being down 0-2. This just proved how much potential we have, but we still have room to grow and fix the unnecessary errors we made," Zhang said.