Boys Volleyball Advance in Comfortable Win Against Westmont

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On Monday night, boys’ volleyball coasted to a win against the Westmont Warriors, sweeping the game 3-0 to advance further into the CCS playoffs. An all-around stellar performance saw the Bears outclass the Warriors as junior setter Peter Chriss connected with senior Andrew Bernardicou and sophomore outside hitter Ben Warner for a total of 20 kills.

Bears defense prepares to receive serve

The Bears held onto the lead for almost the entirety of the game. Senior Andrew Bernardicou nonchalantly celebrated the win, saying, “I was never really worried in the game. It was always pretty calm. The most they get us by would be one or two. So it wasn’t ever that concerning. I have faith in us to always bring it back.”

The first set started out close as each team struggled to get clear of a tie. The Bears soon found their groove and improved to 12-8 to force an early Warriors timeout. The game remained close as each team found key offensive moments. Chriss threatened with a deadly setter dump, and junior middle Millo Skhiri forced his way through the block to find a point. Kills from Bernardicou and Warner highlighted the Bears’ run late in the set, finding themselves up 19-14. The Warriors were quick to respond however, finding ways to nullify the attack with a strong forward defense. 

Clawing their way back, Westmont forced an M-A timeout with the score at 22-21. A thundering kill from junior Johnny Kerr seemed to give the Bears the push they needed, before a couple of mistakes from the Bears allowed the Warriors back into the game at 23-23. The Bears found their footing, however, securing a thrilling first set with two consecutive points won by Carr—final score 25-23.

The Bears kicked off the second set with a bang, with Chriss hitting a powerful ace. M-A pushed out to an early lead, going up 7-3 off of a few imposing blocks from junior Aiden Gabriel and Skhiri. The Warriors called a timeout a few points later, with the Bears up 9-4. Warner continued to be a threat from the backcourt as Chriss fed him up the middle for kill after kill. The Bears were able to hold onto a three-point lead into the middle of the set, before Westmont was able to step up their defense, leveling the score and forcing an M-A timeout. 

The two teams kept the score neck and neck, evenly matched, before a series of missed shots by Westmont put the Bears three points ahead 21-18. Offense spearheaded by Bernardicou and the continual threat of Warner in the back put an end to the second set, 25-21.

Swartberg makes impressive return

Speaking on the flow of the game, Swartzberg said, “We were never expecting them to gain momentum– it was usually due to us losing focus and maybe relaxing too much. Definitely when we communicate and are watching each other and playing our own positions well, and trusting our team, we are able to get momentum back and win those crucial rallies to push us through to the next few points.”

The Bears rocketed into the lead to start the third set, thanks in part to Chriss’ powerful jump serves. Up 6-0, every part of the team seemed to get in on the action. The Bears stayed comfortably in the lead as Westmont wouldn’t get within four points before Westmont’s third timeout of the game, with the Bears up 20-14. Taking back three points with their season on the line, Westmont’s stands rallied with cheers, but M-A confidently closed out the game to sweep the Westmont Warriors 3-0, advancing to the next round of CCS playoffs. 

Warner spoke on the night’s performance and his connection with Chriss, saying, “Me and Peter, we’ve been warming up every single day, so we have a pretty solid connection. We’re two really good players and we love playing together.”

The Bears’ season came to a close on Tuesday night in a close defeat to the number three seed Cupertino. 

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