Beyond the magazine: One kill after another

When the junior boys volleyball team is hosting a game, the varsity team is already on the court preparing for its own match. Each player has their own miniature routine to follow before each match.

Across the court is senior captain Prathik Rao, who shoots hoops almost an hour earlier than when he’s supposed to be in the gym. There’s no pattern to his attempts, but there’s a volleyball where a basketball should be at the very least.

Junior captain Jason Shen joins him a few minutes later, and indulges in his club volleyball team’s traditional warm-up. Yoga. Their routine is a result of years of practice and experience, and stands in stark contrast to the sophomores who join their captains before their upcoming game.

The sophomores seem to wander around aimlessly before the game begins, but when head coach Paul Chiu calls for the varsity team to warm-up they join their focused captains and become one unit among three different classes of MVHS students. By the time they finally take to the court at 6:45 p.m, this team has the mindset of the MVHS volleyball team that stormed the league four years ago.

MVHS boys volleyball has made it a habit to dominate opponents. They have taken to the court for 87 sets in the regular season, in both tournament play and match play, and have come off the court with only 15 dropped sets. It’s too late for their opponents to deny these athletes a chance to compete in the postseason. But this isn’t a one season surprise. This year’s team has been built around the class of 2019, and even though they might be the youngest varsity team MVHS boys volleyball has ever had, they’re still in the top of their league.

Sophomore Sensations

They’ve given us a shot – with the seniors and the entire team and [the] entire program in general – ” senior Yash Hegde said.

Adarsh Pachori. Gautham Dasari. Kevin Mathew. Nikhil Bapat. Rajas Habbu. Apoorv Pachori. When they enter the gym before their game, they don’t have a set routine. They are the six sophomores on the varsity team. They can be found line-judging, working the scoring table or idling on their phones until Chiu tells them to begin warming up.  Despite joining this team relatively recently, when they’re on the court they can hold their own.

“Our sophomores are also a strong part of that core. We’ve had no choice but to surround ourselves with the sophomores,” Hegde said. “They’ve been an integral part in making our team whole and basically effective this entire season.”

Dasari played for Chiu last year as well, and with top prospects like class of 2016 alumnus Alex Li gone, he’s stepped up his game the moment last year’s season ended.

“I feel that now, [the upperclassmen] have been working so hard, that when I’m playing with them it makes me want to work a lot harder,” Dasari said. “Watching Jason and Tiki like hit the floor for every single ball, I’ve also kind of developed that mindset where you shouldn’t let anything drop.”

MVHS was the number two seed heading into the postseason CCS tournament, and it seems as though these sophomores didn’t have much difficulty adapting to a varsity playbook. Some of these players will compete at a varsity level for four years, and are already seeing results from adding younger players to their roster.

Tearing the League Apart

The team is poised to finish what they couldn’t win last year. The mantra of the previous three years still holds true today: win leagues, win CCS, win NorCals. Despite losing the talented senior crop, they’ve made up for it with a work ethic bordering on obsessive according to assistant varsity coach Calvin Wong.

“This year it’s a smarter and quicker run defense, so we actually just played defense better, and then we have learned to pick and choose on how we get kills compared [to] like hitting off of people’s hands, off the block, maybe tipping it to an empty area,” Wong said. “[Basically, not] going for the big flashy play of a big hit where we had that luxury last year with [Li].”

Last year the team chose to primarily rely on skill instead of hustle. This year’s team has had to focus and create a more enthusiastic defense in its place. Despite not being able to overpower opponents anymore, they’ve become one of the most dominating teams in the league when it comes to defending the ball.

Defense is the end-game for MVHS. Some games when their defense falls through, their lack of an offense becomes glaringly apparent. But in their 3-0 victories throughout the season, the defense helps the team generates the momentum to create the rhythm to prop up their offense.

“[Rao] and [Shen] are two of the best defensive players in our league, perhaps even in CCS, that have really been the cornerstone for our team and the foundation that we have built our program upon as of right now,” Dasari said. “That defensive mindset really comes from them.”

Head coach Paul Chiu notched his 200th career victory on April 6, and was also CCS boys volleyball coach of the year thanks to the success of the MVHS boys volleyball varsity team.

“One thing that we can see on the Monta Vista boys volleyball team this year is their team chemistry. They like playing with each other,” Wong said. “They might not necessarily all hang out in the same circles at school, but they enjoy putting in the work and the time together, which shows on the court with their hustle plays.”

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Take it from the players: MVHS pushes past Saratoga HS in straight sets

It’s not every game that MVHS takes on Mercury News boys volleyball Player of the Year, Joel Schneidmiller, as an opponent. For sophomore Nikhil Bapat, it was a reality he had to face when MVHS went up against Saratoga HS and their dynamic 6-foot 3-inch hitter. For most of the first set, SHS and MVHS were locked in a close back and forth, trading one showstopping kill for another as the score grew to 19-19. That’s when Schneidmiller launched himself towards the net from outside to crash MVHS’ defense and swing the game in SHS’ favor. But Bapat was ready for him. The crowd went silent as Bapat blocked the spike, absorbing all of the devastating hit and sending it back to the SHS half of the court. MVHS players and fans erupted during the succeeding SHS timeout, and the momentum shifted permanently in MVHS’ favor. Scroll down to see what Bapat and other key players were thinking during the victory.


On his show-stopping block against SHS hitter Joel Schneidmiller:

“We really game planned around blocking Joel, because he’s their strongest hitter, so I was trying to get in front of him and stop him from getting a hard hit down the line because he would have taken someone’s face off if he had gotten that hit, so I just wanted to get in front of it and make sure that he didn’t get the kill. It’s always fun to block Joel, [but] it doesn’t happen often.”

BOYS VBALL Saratoga HS Home Game TEXT - 1 (1)

On his disrupting inside kills throughout the game:

“You know, right technique and right form are all that matters. If you have the right form or right technique it’s going to be a bounce either way. So, it’s not about if you’re going to bounce or not, it’s about if you have the right technique it’s just going to go down. [SHS] is a great team, but we kept the pressure on them. We got them in a place that they don’t want to be, and in a situation that they don’t want to be. Overall, that’s how we go the win.”

BOYS VBALL Saratoga HS Home Game TEXT - 3 (1)

On his unpredictable passes that kept SHS on their toes:

“I think a lot of it was going away from the strong hitters, so even though that sounds counter intuitive, they’re not going to think that it’s going to happen so they’re already running towards our strong hitter and then you go away from them and nobody’s there.”

Boys volleyball will play Homestead HS in the main gym on April 26 at 6:45 p.m.

Photos by Om Khandekar and Sannidhi Menon

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Boys volleyball: Team defeats Los Altos HS in senior night game

Up against a Los Altos HS team with a 2-10 league record, the Matadors came into their senior night game feeling confident of a win. After a brief ceremony for seniors Prathik Rao and Yash Hegde, MVHS took the court and the players seemed laid back, all smiling and sharing jokes.

“I think a lot of us played in this [senior night] game last year, so we knew what to expect,” sophomore Kevin Mathew said. “But the atmosphere was really relaxed, I mean kind of carefree.”

Both Hegde and Rao made appearances throughout the game, with the crowd roaring particularly louder each time they touched the ball. Despite suffering from injuries to both of his ankles in games earlier this season, Rao was still able to play for his senior night game.

“It was very emotional, since it was my last game playing on [our] home court,” senior Prathik Rao said. “Both my ankles are kinda broken, so I knew that I wasn’t going to get my normal minutes, but I was still very excited to be playing.”

Mathew explains that the team was not as focused as usual, and this was shown through instances of miscommunication or bad passing throughout the game. However, the Matadors were clearly the more skilled and technical side, and in the end, they easily outmatched their opponents. Senior Yash Hegde and sophomore Kevin Mathew combined on numerous occasions to make momentum shifting blocks, and the team won all three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-15, and 25-18. Check out the photo gallery below to see how the team cruised to a senior night victory on April 28 against LAHS.

Boys Volleyball vs Los Altos- Senior night

Boys volleyball will play their CCS quarterfinal game in the gym on May 11th at 7pm.

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Retiring the Racket: Badminton holds memorable senior night on April 27

Sparkly silver tiaras rested on the seniors’ heads as they stood outside the field house waiting for a cue. For the beginning of their senior night, they’d replaced the badminton rackets they normally held with glittery, colorful wands. And once they were called inside by a former team member, senior Manasa Handady, they came into the field house, going through the tunnel of badminton rackets that their teammates had formed. Waiting at the end of the tunnel was a large poster that read “MV Baddy Senior Night.”

Badminton pic 1

Following their big entrance, the team’s 15 seniors were each presented with a balloon and gift bag in a ceremony organized by other members of the team. Later, they were given the posters, personalized with puns, that had earlier lined the walls of the field house. The ceremony served as an opportunity for the team to spend time together, and savor the memories from their final home game of the season. But after snapping a couple pictures with friends, family, and teammates, the seniors had to abandon their tiaras and wands and resume their warm-up routine, just like any other game.

Badminton pic 2

However, the team had changed their regular line-up so all the seniors would be able to play, and this meant that some players were paired up with unfamiliar partners. This shift left many team members, including junior Emily Chen, unsure of what to expect.

“I was kind of surprised [with the results], because I thought some of the matches would be harder,” Chen said. “So overall it was pretty good, [because] even the games we lost were really close.”

In the end, the team went on to triumph over Saratoga High School by a score of 24-6. But this night was about more than the matches and the score, it was about the memories and the celebration.

“I think the best part was[…] when all the seniors were like ‘Wow they actually did something for us’ because a lot of them didn’t expect that much,” Chen said. “So I just really like that they were happy with what we did.”

Check out the photo gallery below to see more pictures from the senior night ceremony.

Badminton Senior Night 2017

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Fashion Club holds Spring Fashion Show

Every year, Monta Vista Fashion Club holds and annual fashion show at the end of the year to showcase all of the members’ hard work throughout the year. This year was no exception, as their Spring Fashion Show held on May 20 featured skirts, tops and other designs.

Aditi’s collection

As it’s her last year at MVHS, Fashion Club co-president senior Aditi Jain went with a lingerie-style look that showcased the power of a woman’s body.

“I’m kind of really into the idea of feminism… so I wanted to create a collection that allows women to feel more free with their sexuality and their body image,” Jain said. “That’s why I created looks inspired by lingerie and loungewear.”

Jain looked to Rihanna’s post-Grammy’s look for inspiration for her collection. With her desire to make a statement about women’s empowerment and end her Fashion Club career with a bang, Jain left her impact on the runway.

Kavin’s collection

Kavin's Collection

Every year, co-president junior Kavin Sivakumar travels to India and visits textile stores to look at different fabrics. This year, he had the chance to see a lot of interesting prints, especially ones that were reversible, which started to inspire his collection. Sivakumar then branched out into implementing bows, as it was an easy way to incorporate embellishment onto his pieces. “I’ve always believed that clothes aren’t for male and female, everybody can wear anything they wish, in my opinion, and I wanted to make things that could be worn by everybody,” Sivakumar said, “so maybe the bows could be preferred by someone who dresses more feminine, the front side could be preferred by someone who dresses more masculine.”

Chantelle’s collection

Chantelle's Collection

Sophomore Chantelle Chang’s collection was inspired by what she wears on a daily basis. The Fashion Show treasurer looked for comfortable fabrics like cotton and redesigned them so they would be more versatile.

For Chang, it was also a challenge to create an entire collection on her own, without the help of her fellow officers. However, the challenge made her collection even more special when it was showcased on the runway and helped her enjoy the unique nature of the fashion show.

“It’s not rehearse, rehearse until it’s perfect, it’s rehearse, rehearse until we like it,” Chang said. “[Fashion] is very opinionated and it’s just about showing who you are and what you want to define yourself as.”

New York passes law for free college tuition at state schools

New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a law authorizing the Excelsior Scholarship program, which is designed to provide tuition for students going to public colleges and state universities families earn less than $125,000. But tuition-free college is not new to the United States. In fact, the University of California system originally provided free undergraduate education for state residents.