Photo credits to Marcus Blunt
On Wednesday night, the M-A Bears dominated the Terra Nova Tigers 3-0 at the annual Senior Night. Spirits were high on the court and in the packed stands even before the game began, particularly when nine senior players and their families walked through a gateway of their fellow teammates. Fans waved posters with endearing nicknames scrawled in colorful markers as players received a framed photo to commemorate their four years at M-A.
Junior Sadie Scherer said, “I think Senior Night is so important to the team because it’s a fun tradition and you get to remember your seniors and celebrate them for all the amazing things they’ve done in their seasons. It’s also something to look forward to for younger players and to motivate them for the rest of their seasons in the future.” Enthusiastic senior fan Amelia Poirier also stated, “I showed up because of all my friends on the team. The volleyball team is super strong and energetic. I love supporting M-A sports.”
After a group photo followed by a twenty minute warm-up, the starting players burst through the signature M-A banner and took their positions.
Senior libero Clara Cronin stood out early with a few critical digs and powerful serves. However, the team faced a widening score gap in the first half, as Terra Nova hammered down one spike after another. Sophomore Daniela Eline fired back with a spike of her own a short time later, prompting a wave of cheers from the crowd. It seemed that the fan support worked, as the Tigers started slipping up on their hits and allowing M-A to shorten the point deficit.
The first set remained close, despite numerous outstanding plays by senior Anna Ryan, including a deadly tip Terra Nova couldn’t hope to return. Hearty chants of “ACE, ACE, ACE” underscored a string of serves that left the Tigers scrambling to the ball, and well-executed combo plays finally tied the teams up at 15 all. After a quick timeout, the game resumed at an even faster pace. Senior Maddie Molise blocked a killer spike by Terra Nova to budge out a lead, which players like Eline capitalized upon with offensive pressure, blasting hits that couldn’t be returned. Soon enough, the score stood at 22-17. Senior Heaven T’eo had an impressive block, and two quick points later the Bears won the first set 25-17. The team shared a quick moment of celebration and encouragement before the players readied for set two.
While the Tigers started off with some trouble serving, Cronin packed a punch with her early serving round. Sophomore Kiela King dove for two early saves, allowing senior Christina Kerr to edge ahead to 12-8 with two clean aces. M-A maintained a slim lead for most of the set. About halfway through, T’eo faked a strike and Kerr delivered a near-perfect hammer to the sound of enthusiastic cheers.
Soon after, controversy arose after players and fans alike argued with the referee that a Terra Nova player had touched the ball twice while diving. Unfortunately, the referee maintained her decision – to this viewer’s dismay – but a stunning dig by senior Rebecca Schulman and serve by King were quick to regain the hype and bumped the score up to 22-14. Molise hit a deadly spike to get M-A to 25-14, and a deft tip by Schulman secured another victory for the team.
The third set began with a bang, as T’eo secured an early lead with her dominant serves and Molise with a remarkable block. Soon enough, after a spike by Ryan, a serve by senior Elise Brahana, and flawless team cooperation, putting the Bears up 13-6. Cronin and T’eo protected the lead with a couple skillful saves, and Schulman’s unreturned serve extended the Bear’s lead to 17-10.
Brahana made her mark at the end of the game, delivering a streak of strong serves that provided the team with enough momentum to reach the final point far ahead. The last point ended with an unforced error by the Tigers, leaving the final score at 25-13 – the highest differential of the night – causing the stands to erupt in a wave of victorious cheering.
Coach Bryant Tran said, “The whole team really loves their seniors so everybody was cheering for them. All the players knew some of the starters weren’t going to be playing today” to make room for the seniors “but all support went to the seniors. We had a great turnout today so they played super proud. We always do pretty well at home or in front of our own crowd.”
After much-deserved celebrations, players also shared their perspective on the game. Kerr said, “We were really hyped because it was all the seniors playing together and it’s our last normal league game so we really wanted to just go out with a bang. We celebrate Senior Night because all the seniors put in really hard work all four years and it’s their time to get recognized for being a part of the program. I was really proud of how we really pulled together in the last set when we were switching positions. We were having so much fun and playing well.”
Brahana also added, “We always play better when we have fun and the seniors have all played for a long time so we were really enjoying that. I think that Senior Night is the community coming together to cheer these people who have been a part of it for so long. I’m proud of all of us for coming together and playing so well.”
As the teams walked off the court, a resounding, “nah nah nah nah, hey-ey-ey, goodbye” could be heard throughout the gym, signaling the end of an extraordinary night.