While the fall volleyball season has come to an end, the fun has not. The Malden Girls Volleyball team hosted its third annual 6v6 Tournament last Monday.
The Girls’ Varsity team finished the 2022 season with a 15-6 overall record. They earned a spot in the Division One state tournament for the second year in a row and finished behind only Revere and Medford in the Greater Boston League. It is clear that the girls worked extremely hard this year to have a great season.
Coach Daniel Jurkowski recognizes this success. Every year, the team hosts an end-of-season banquet to honor the players. Jurkowski described it as a “great occasion to celebrate the season and everything we accomplished.” A few years ago, some players came up with a great solution to banquet fundraising; hence, the tournament was born.
There were plenty of rules in place to keep the fundraiser fair for all. The tournament was open to all people and contained both a varsity and junior varsity division. Teams were considered varsity level if any player on the team had played on the school’s varsity volleyball teams. Varsity teams could only have a maximum of three boys on the court. The games would be played on a unisex net in a double-elimination bracket. Unlike school volleyball, the games would not have set but instead be played in a single game to 21.
The four junior varsity teams were the Malden Crows, Santa’s Little Helpers, the Duckateers, and V Bomb. These teams were composed of junior varsity and freshman volleyball players as well as other students from the school who did not play the sport.
In this JV Division, the first-round matchups were very even. The Malden Crows and Duckateers battled all the way to the end of the game, but the latter came away with a victory. Santa’s Little Helpers had a bit of an easier time taking a victory against V Bomb, who would be sent to an elimination game against the Malden Crows.
Unfortunately for V Bomb, they couldn’t hang on in their matchup and were eliminated from the tournament. In the winning matchup, Santa’s Little Helpers took down the Duckateers handily. This brought them to the championship game. The Duckateers, on the other hand, were forced to play an elimination game against the Crows for a spot in that championship.
Once again, the Malden Crows came through when they needed it most. They eliminated the Duckateers and moved on to face an undefeated juggernaut in Santa’s Little Helpers that had cruised to the championship game. The championship game went the same way. The Crows couldn’t take down the beast, and Santa’s Little Helpers took the JV division championship with an undefeated record.
Two juniors from Santa’s Little Helpers, Gil Antonio Lawson and Kauan Da Silva, spoke about their performance after the game. Lawson said that while the game wasn’t very close, “the Malden Crows in the finals were definitely the toughest competitor.” Da Silva thought that the team was very well balanced: “Our strengths were everywhere. Everyone on the team did everything well.” When asked what strategy the team used to win, Da Silva gave a simple answer: “pass well, set good, hit hard.”
Five varsity teams signed up to compete. The teams were the Fruity Pebbles, Keira and Friends, Yak Attack, Team JONG, and the Mighty Pancakes. Keira and Friends were given a first-round bye in the top bracket because they won the tournament one year ago.
Just like the JV division, the varsity games started very competitively. Team JONG and the Fruity Pebbles took their opening match to a 21-21 tie, both seeking that two-point advantage needed to win. Junior Victor Desouza took control and slammed an earth-shattering kill for a 23-21 Team JONG victory. In the other game, the Mighty Pancakes and Yak Attack brought the score to 20-20. Yak Attack hung on with a 23-21 win after Coach Jurkowski, who was playing for the team, delivered a great hit to the back of the court that snuck inside the line for a game-winning point.
In the next game, Yak Attack would take on top seeded Keira and Friends. That one game of rest proved advantageous as Keira and Friends took an early lead and never backed down for a 21-14 win. The elimination game between the two first-round losers was potentially the most exciting of the entire tournament. The Fruity Pebbles and Mighty Pancakes swapped points throughout the game, leading to a 20-20 tie. A few more hits were exchanged before the Pancakes escaped with a 24-22 victory. The undeniable player of the game was Junior Ezechiel Noelsaint, who surprisingly saved the team with powerful hits even though he plays varsity baseball in the spring.
The next games would feature two undefeated teams, Keira and Friends and Team JONG, as well as an elimination game between the Mighty Pancakes and Yak Attack. The former was not very close. While both Keira and Friends and JONG were even for a bit, Team JONG rocketed out to a 18-11 advantage and a late comeback attempt couldn’t stop the 21-17 victory. The elimination game had a similar story. The Mighty Pancakes took an early advantage and ran with it to eliminate Yak Attack. This would put the Pancakes in their third straight elimination game against Keira and Friends for a spot in the championship finale against JONG.
Both teams knew what was on the line when they stepped onto the court. Back and forth, the teams went at it in the closest game of the day. The score was tied six separate times during the match, but Keira and Friends seemed to consistently be the one jumping ahead. The Pancakes stellar run was ended by a score of 21-19, sending Keira and Friends to the championship in a rematch against JONG.
This championship match would be a winner-take-all single game to 25 points. Both teams started even, bringing the score to five each. Keira and Friends began then went on a solid scoring run and earned a four point advantage at a score of 12-8. Out of nowhere, Team JONG caught fire. They scored five in a row to take a 13-12 advantage. Once the score hit 15-all, JONG really showed what they could do. Again, five straight points went their way, leading Keira and Friends into a very tough situation. They couldn’t recover, and senior Kyle Lee’s kill gave Team JONG a championship victory by the score of 25-19.
Aiden Tham, a Team JONG member, was very confident about his team’s performance. “Nobody could pass like us, nobody could hit like us, nobody could set like us, and nobody could block like us. We were just the best at everything.” It’s difficult to argue with Tham as JONG went undefeated in their road to victory. He said that their winning strategy was to “jump high and hit the ball hard,” very similar to what Da Silva said about JV winning Santa’s Little Helpers.
Overall, the fundraiser was great for the program. They made $140 in profit with ticket sales and had an energetic and supportive crowd. Competition is always fun, and Malden volleyball is sure to have a great banquet to cap off their incredible season after this event.