SPORTS

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Photo by Carolina Loaisiga
Alumni girls challenge each other in a pressured game. Photo by Carolina Loaisiga

Screams of “I got the ball!” and “I’ve missed you” filled the Matador Arena as Matador alumni and current varsity members of volleyball reunited to play the beloved sport on June 19 at their annual volleyball tournament hosted during the summer.

The games started at around 9 a.m., and they were divided up into two small courts, one for boys and one for girls.

The boys’ current varsity volleyball team started by playing against alumni, which was challenging for the boys, but the varsity team managed to win all three sets with scores of 25-18, 25-20, and 15-9.  After the game ended, they gathered to shake hands and hug.

On the other side of the court, the girls’ varsity volleyball team played three full sets against alumni, winning all of them with scores of 25-18, 25-21, and 15-12. They too shook hands and hugged after the first game and prepared to play more games later on in the tournament.

As the hours passed by, the alumni eventually had to leave because they had work. The tournament thus ended in a two-by-two competition, which consisted of two players as a team versus two other players, and had immediate knockout rounds, allowing the rest of the other pairs to keep rotating in and out.

The Matador varsity boys volleyball team plays three sets against alumni Photo by Carolina Loaisiga
The Matador varsity boys volleyball team plays three sets against alumni Photo by Carolina Loaisiga

Passer and incoming senior Gabriela Gonzalez helped her team win against alumni and had a great time being able to compete with her old teammates.

“This is motivation, to see these alumni girls come out and go for every ball,” Gonzalez said. “Every play, it shows you have so much more to give.”

Recent graduate Jaleen Lujan said that it was enjoyable for everyone who had participated. From helping coach Larry Kanow set up the tournaments to playing as an alumna, Lujan has participated in five tournaments.

“It feels as if I’m reliving the past, playing with my old teammates, as I’m not used to seeing their faces anymore and now I’m playing with them again,” Lujan said.

The alumni volleyball tournaments have been held as an annual tradition since alumnus Bic Ta and coach Chris Kwan started the games four years ago.

“We had both boys and girls playing matches, [and] about 67 alumni showed up [this time],” Kanow said. “It was a good challenge for the varsity to play experienced and talented [alumni]. It’s always fun to see the alumni [again] and catch up on their new adventures in life.”

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Photo by Justin Toyomitsu

Matador’s boy varsity volleyball team, with nervousness and excitement, faced their first CIF championship game opponent the Broncos on May 12 at the new gym. Despite the Broncos’ four tall walls of player over six foot five inches, it was no match against the fierce Matadors who showed no mercy and snatched all three sets of the game.

Everyone in the stand felt the pressure and nervousness the starters for the Matadors felt, bringing the gym in silence when the first whistle of the game was blown. The game started with the Matadors fast pace, scoring four points in a row to lengthen their distance in points. However the Broncos had difficulty against the great plays the Matadors made and began to break apart their teamwork from the beginning. Before anyone could notice, the Matadors were already in the twenties while the Broncos found themselves not even hitting two digits in their score. The first set ended with the dominate victory for the Matadors, ending with the score of 25-10.

Realizing the strength of the Matadors, the Broncos brought up their game, beginning the second set with intimidating tall spikes that even the Matador’s blockers had trouble with. The rally of points eventually came to a stop when Broncos began to make crucial mistakes that lead them to defeat in the second set. The third set ended with yet another marvelous victory for the Matadors, ending the set with a score of 25-20.
The victor became noticeable to the audience when the Broncos’ teammates slowly showed signs of losing hope and giving up. Unwilling the chase chance balls, getting in other player’s ways, making horrendous mistakes, the Broncos found themselves in deep turmoil. Broncos’ coach saw this problem and immediately called timeout even though the score was 4-1 and the game just barely started. Trying the bring back and start the team’s engine, the coach did all she could but was unsuccessful in bringing victory with her team. The last set of the game ended with a loud roar from the crowd, ending with a 25-14 score, making the matadors undefeated still.

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Senior Janette Nguyen long jumps during a track meet. Photo by Sydney Trieu
Senior Janette Nguyen long jumps during a track meet. Photo by Sydney Trieu

Question #1: What sports have you participated in
throughout high school?

Answer: “Freshman and sophomore year I played soccer, and then sophomore year up to senior year I did track and field, and in [my] junior year I started cross country.”

Question #2: How has your participation in these sports changed, shaped, and influenced you?

Answer: “I became more social, and I met people with the same interest. It also made me feel more outgoing.”

Question #3: What is your favorite memory from any of the sports you have participated in?

Answer: “When I got my first medal in track and field, it was during the Rosemead Invitational.”

Question #4: Have you gone to CIF in any of these sports?

Answer: “I qualified for triple jump in track and field. Even though I [did not] place first in league, I was second place, but my mark qualified for the CIF qualifying mark, so I got to [participate].“

Question #5: How was your experience competing in CIF?

Answer: “When I competed in CIF, it was intimidating. I was actually second to last in CIF, but it was a nice experience.“

Question #6: What are your athletic plans after high school?

Answer: “Depending how well I do at the end of season, I will think about joining a sport at Cal-State Pomona.”

photo by: justin toyomitsu
Matadors vs. Aztecs

The Matador boys volleyball team took yet another victory, after their recent tournament, against Mark Keppel High School on April 16th. The Matadors won 3-0, proving their dominance once more.

The game started off with the Matadors spiking a powerful strike to take the first point of the game. The Matadors continued to lead, forcing the Aztecs to call timeout to prevent the flow the Matadors had. However the loss was inevitable, leaving the Matadors with a set score of 25-16 and a nine point lead.

The Aztecs came back with as much force. Using faster plays and performing less errors, they led the first half of the second set with a four point lead. However, the Matadors slowly caught  up, evening the score at 10-10. As if baffled by the Matadors’ comeback, the Aztecs slowly began to lose points, letting the Matadors easily take the set with the set score 25-14.

The third set was filled with unpredictable turns of events from both teams through the whole game. Aztec’s number three player, the libero, was hit in the face by David Gonzales’ intense spike not once, but twice. Though the actions were not on purpose, it was humorous to the crowd, who cheered on the fallen Aztec as he stood up each time after getting hit. Regardless, the Matadors took the third set with the score of 25-13, winning all three sets and leaving the gym with a victory in their hands.

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Photo by Vanessa Huang

After winning three sets against the Montebello Oilers, the San Gabriel Matadors finally won the game on April 7 with the final score of 25-7. During the first set of the game, the Matadors and Oilers were tied with the first point, each team hoping to get the lead. However, the Matadors slowly managed to get ahead by six points with their teamwork. The Oilers, refusing to give up, tried hard to close the gap of the scores but made minor mistakes, like spiking the balls out of bound. However, the Oilers overcame those mistakes and managed to catch up to the Matadors with only one point behind. As the Oilers attempted to overturn the game, the Matadors successfully increased their score to 20-16, eventually taking the first set with the score of 25-18.

As the second set began, the Matadors made the first point. All was going well for the Matadors, who were leading the game with five points. As for the Oilers, however, they were struggling to make the first point. The Oilers finally scored their first point, but were still behind the Matadors with a six point difference, 7-1. The Oilers tried hard to catch up to the Matadors, but the gap of the score still increased. With the Matadors making point after point and the Oilers failing to resist, the Matadors created a huge gap of 15-5. Not losing their momentum, the Matadors create a lead of 13 points, making the Oilers unable to catch up. The second set finally went to the Matadors with the score of 25-10.

The third set finally began, an important set for both the Matadors and Oilers. Wanting to get a good start, the Matadors take the first point. The Oilers, still having trouble, were behind by more than 10 points and were unable to break the winning streak of the Matadors. With only just five more points left for the Matadors to win the game, the Oilers became anxious but were still unable to break their score into double digits. The final set went toward the Matadors’ favor, who won the game with the score of 25-7. After more than an hour of playing back and forth, the Matadors defeated the Oilers by winning all three sets.

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Photo by : Justin Toyomitsu
Photo by Sydney Trieu

The Matador boys volleyball team faced off against the West High School Warriors on March 10. Though taking control of the first set, the Matadors slowly crumbled, ending in a fatal loss with a set score of 3-2. Losing the tie-breaking first set by several points, the Matadors had a wide chance to come back but were unable to grasp the game, which ended with a solid loss.

The first set of the game was a smooth game for the Matadors, who swept the first three points of the game and continued to keep the lead. Focusing on widening the gap, the Matadors were able to make a nine-point difference against the Warriors, winning the entire set with the set score of 25-13.

However, everything started to fall from the second set. Losing the first four points, West High School stubbornly kept their five-point lead while the Matadors tried to bounce back. ending in a tie, 17-17. Unfortunately, with unexpected errors, the Matadors lost the set with a three-point loss, ending the set with the score of 22-25.

The game entered the third set and even the fourth set, lengthening the game until the fifth set. With another loss in the third set with a score of 17-25, the Matadors could not afford to lose another set. Waking up from their deep sleep, they came back strong with a six-point lead of 25-19, winning the fourth set.

Entering the fifth set of the game, which was the tie breaker, both teams vigorously played in order to capture 15 points first. Though the Matadors had a secure tie with the Warriors, the game ended in a loss 11-15, with the set score of 3-2.

Photo by Tran Lam
Photo by Tran Lam

In their second match against Alhambra High, the Matadors lost to the Moors, 38-42. The game displayed a constant battle between the Matadors and Moors, with each team constantly battling to gain the upper hand.

The Matadors started off the game even against the Moors. Among the basket trades between the teams, the score stayed relatively even, closing out at 14-11 after the first quarter.

During the second quarter, the Matadors and Moors rallied for the ball to try and gain the lead. Two minutes before the quarter ended, a time-out was called, while both teams were neck and neck with a score of 19-18. Just after, the Matadors fouled and gave the Moors a chance to shoot, leveling out the score to 19-19. With six seconds left on the clock, senior David Gonzalez scored a three-pointer for the Matadors, causing the San Gabriel crowd to yell throughout the arena. In another last-ditch effort to score, sophomore Jarett Tan threw the ball just as the buzzer sounded, which scored another three points for the Matadors, further fueling the crowd’s uproar throughout the room. The Matadors ended the first half of the game with a six point lead, 25-19.

For the half-time show, Cheer, Choreo, Color guard, and the band performed their routines to raise the spirit of the Matador crowd.

In the third quarter, both teams fumbled for the ball, frequently trying to bring the ball back to the opponent’s side of the court. The Moors slowly climbed back as the game progressed, reducing the score gap from six points to two points, 31-29.

To finish off the game, the Matadors regained their six point lead back in the last four minutes, which gave them some room to breathe. The future looked dim for the Moors, with even their coach showing a visibly dejected face. A sudden three-pointer from the Moors brought them back on a level playing field at 38-36. With one minute left in the game, the Moors miraculously shot another three-pointer, giving them a lead of one point at 38-39. With less than a minute left, the Matadors fouled multiple times to try and regain the ball. The home crowd chant reverberated throughout the arena, “Matadors! Matadors! Matadors!” However, the Matadors’ strategy of using fouls eventually timed out, and they fell to the Moors with a score of 38-42.

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Photo by Sydney Trieu
Photo by Sydney Trieu

At the pre-Thanksgiving event for San Gabriel’s boys varsity basketball, the alumni squad squared off against the varsity team and defeated them in a late rally at the score of 58-50.  Throughout most the game, the varsity team was up on top holding the lead, but a comeback in the final period of play pieced together by the alumni squad sealed the deal.

The starting lineup for the varsity team was sophomore guard Nick Miyamoto, junior guards Quoc Ho, Courtland Khuu and forward Austin Tien, and senior center David Gonzalez.

In the first quarter, the Matador was able to hit multiple three-point field goals courtesy of sophomore guard Nick Miyamoto, scratching the first bucket of this contest. Utilizing their hot hands, the varsity team was able to keep the alumni team behind them throughout most of the game. However, there were also opportunities to extend the lead even further.

“We have to recognize mismatches in the post,” Coach Jason Meador said. “We missed easy looks to score.”

However, it seemed as if the alumni squad was just biding their time with this contest. In the second half, they staged a comeback sparking after a couple of treys from Wesley Licher that helped reduce the gap into striking range. The rally was hard to contain, leading to breakdowns on the offensive end, and trying to trade buckets.

“Play hard guys, don’t let up,” Coach Alex Canizone said. “Don’t worry about the score, just play hard and hustle.”

That was not the case for the varsity squad in this contest. They were unable to catch up in the final minutes and fell at the score of 58-50.  San Gabriel will start their season with the don Bosco Tournament starting next Tuesday, Dec. 2 against Diamond Bar at 4 p.m. at Don Bosco Tech.