Malden Girls’ Volleyball Stays Optimistic After Loss Against Watertown

All photos by Jessica Li. Video by Ryan Coggswell.

A cold, rainy Friday afternoon accompanied an extensive bus ride to the Track at New Balance in Brighton for the Malden Girls Volleyball team this past weekend. The 6-5 overall team (5-3 GBL) took on the Watertown Red Raiders, an out-of-league opponent, to try and get one step closer to the prestigious MIAA tournament in November.

After a hot start in the first, the Golden Tornados dropped the next three sets and fell by a score of 3-1. It did not seem as if the team began to struggle in the later sets, but the ball just never seemed to fall in their favor.

“I wish I knew the answer to that,” stated Head Coach Dan Jurkowski. “That’s volleyball. Sometimes, when you play good teams, you’re going to win sets and you’re going to lose sets.” However, he does believe that the team “gave away too many points” and “made a lot of errors ourselves.”

The first set was even for a while before Malden came through with a few huge points, stretching a 13-12 lead to 18-13 rather quickly. Watertown made a few more mistakes than they would have liked during that run, which ended up costing them a set that was quite even until Malden took the 25-19 victory.

After the set, junior Jeslyn San stated that Malden needed to “keep talking, hustling, and working” for every point. Junior Lovely Anne Gerochi added that the team got “good ups” and “great blocks” to propel them to that victory.

Like the first set, the second set was quite even. The Red Raiders led most of the set, but only by a two or three-point lead. An ace from senior Ashly Rodrigue followed a kill from fellow senior Ramneet Chahal to close the gap to 20-18. At that point, it went downhill for the Golden Tornados. They conceded five consecutive points to drop the second set 25-18.

Junior Marie Cheng believed that their issue was a “talking thing” and that they needed to focus less on “what they were messing up” and more on “doing better”. Interestingly, the communication was something that San said needed to continue after the first set.

The third and fourth set went about the same, despite some impressive play from sophomore Namaicka Jeune as a middle. She scored multiple points off of blocks and kept Malden in both of the sets for a while. In the third set, the Golden Tornados once again found themselves down 20-18 but could not come through when it mattered and lost 25-19. The visitors found themselves in a bigger 19-15 hole in the fourth and final set, but only dug deeper and lost that set by 25-18.

Despite the loss that dropped the team’s record to 6-6, they are optimistic that they can still finish .500 and make the tournament. When asked if they were still hopeful, senior Keira Lin and junior Abigail Lee shouted “of course!” and noted that they only needed “four more.”

Coach Jurkowski agreed that they definitely have a shot. “Absolutely,” he responded. “We can beat the rest of the teams on our schedule. We still have to play well because we can lose to those teams, but we feel pretty good right now.”

Despite the loss, The Blue and Gold Player of the Game was definitely earned by the aforementioned Namaicka Jeune. Lin and Lee were “so amazed” by Jeune getting “three blocks in a row” which was “very impressive.” Jurkowski added that “for a team that doesn’t block very well, we would be in trouble without her. She was phenomenal.”

At the time of publishing, Malden has won their next two games on the road against Everett and Somerville by scores of 3-1 and 3-0. Their next game is on Friday night at home against Chelsea offering them a chance to move to 9-6 on the year.

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