Vixens Take League Title, Playoff Run Ends Early
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The crowd went silent, matching senior and co-captain Corinne Pita’s concentration as she hit the final serve. The Vixens, Stuyvesant’s girls’ varsity volleyball team, had conquered the first set and were now one point away from the second round of playoffs. The ball cut through the air, bouncing off of their opponents’ defense and onto the wall. Just like that, the Vixens made it to the second round of the playoffs, winning the second set 25-8 after a 25-13 win in the first set of the first round against Curtis High School.
This great form was a staple of the Vixens’ playing style this year, which led to their undefeated regular-season record, winning all 10 of their regular-season games 2-0 and ending up at the top of their league. They expected to repeat last year’s historic success in the PSAL A division playoffs by winning the citywide competition again and entered the playoffs this year as the ninth seed in their highly competitive division. Their dominance, however, was put to a halt with their loss to Queens Metropolitan High School in the second round of the playoffs.
The match was held at Metropolitan Campus with Metropolitan’s supporters packed into the stands. Even though the Vixens secured the first set of the game, Metropolitan was able to narrowly surpass them by four points in the final two sets, abruptly ending the Vixens’ playoff run by condemning them to a 2-1 loss. A variety of setbacks led to this defeat. “Technically speaking, it did not help that our starting middle Ana-Maria Skaricic sprained her ankle at the Seward Park Tournament a few weeks prior,” junior and co-captain Anaïs Delfau said.
“There were other factors, such as some moments of bad passing and a lack of communication that contributed to our loss. […] The audience at Metro was loud, to say the least. The environment just wasn’t on our side that day,” Pita said. Losing their spot in the semifinals vexed the Vixens, but they ended their phenomenal season proud of themselves.
The Vixens featured a talented roster filled with strong players who led the team consistently throughout the season. Players such as Delfau and junior Isabel Leka excelled in their respective positions. Delfau had a total of 60 kills (an unreturnable attack) in the regular and playoff games combined, and Leka racked up 111 assists and 42 aces (unreturnable serves) this season as a setter. Junior Elena Hlamenko was another talent to be reckoned with. She “came onto the court ready to play wherever and whenever she had to […] and her serves were on par, if not better than those of some of the best servers we had last year,” Pita said. Junior Ana-Maria Skaricic, senior Catherine Yu, and Pita each had spectacular performances as well, with 22, 25, and 40 digs (a save following an opposition attack), respectively, along with 37 kills for Pita and 22 aces for Yu.
Next year’s roster will be missing two seniors, Yu and Pita, both whom are valuable players. On the other hand, five experienced juniors will be taking their place, keeping the team solid and ready for a deeper run in the postseason. Delfau’s advice for the team next year is “to continue working hard for each other and the results will eventually follow. I cannot wait to see what happens next year because we should have a lot of experienced seniors who have been playing together for a while.” Delfau is sure the team will retain their impressive chemistry next year, setting the Vixens up for greatness. “Maybe we’ll take another City Championship title,” Delfau excitedly said.
Coach Vasken Choubalarian’s goals are similar. “For next year, I want to expand their volleyball intelligence—being more adaptable to situations and strategies and being able to make smarter decisions during gameplay. Second, our passing needs to improve, so I will do my best to work on that aspect of their game. Lastly, I want to make sure that all of the girls are playing with confidence and trust in each other. If I can implement these three things, combined with our skill and experience, we have a very good recipe for an extremely competitive volleyball team,” Coach Choubalarian said. Family and team bonding seem to be one of the key ingredients for this team, and next year will be no different. With such a tight-knit team, the Vixens will have no problem making a deep postseason run next year.