Senior Night Shutdown: Malden Golden Tornadoes vs Boston Latin Academy’s Dragons

Families and friends gathered in the Finn Gymnasium on a beautiful Tuesday evening to celebrate the seniors of the Boys’ Volleyball team as they took on Boston Latin Academy’s Dragons. The entire Holland first floor was exposed to the loud echoes of the ecstatic chants and cheers from the crowd who were not only cheering on the team but giving the seniors a proper farewell. 

Although Malden had a slight advantage going into the game in terms of records, Malden is currently 16-3 while the Dragons are 13-5, knowing the unpredictability of volleyball games, they did not let that control their mindset going into the game. 

As for every volleyball senior, Coach Dan Jurkowski started off the night with a heartwarming speech for each of the seniors, which included James Jose, Kauan Coelho, Victor Desouza, Ethan Chen, Adin Chen, and Gil Lawson. In his speeches, he reflected on all of his memories with the seniors, recognizing their immense growth from when they first joined the team and emphasized the mark that they will forever leave on the team. As tradition goes, the other Malden players handed the seniors their bouquet of flowers as they were called up by Jurkowski to take pictures with their loved ones in front of the net. 

Watching from the sidelines as the seniors were given the spotlight, were the underclassmen who were thrilled for their teammates who served as role models for many of them. 

“The seniors have helped me improve a lot throughout the past two years that I’ve been playing volleyball, and the amount of things that I’ve learned from them both from volleyball and in general is countless,” said sophomore Ethan Nguyen, who further reflected on all the moments throughout the season where doubt and uncertainty consumed his thoughts and performances, but with the seniors’ advice and tips, he was able to overcome them and excel alongside his teammates. 

However, the underclassmen weren’t the only ones who were taking the skills they had learned from the previous years with them as they moved forward.  Desouza emphasized how the past three years have been nothing but an eye-opening experience for him where he has learned countless lessons and has built valuable skills that he hopes to apply to his life even after high school. “I’ll definitely take the ability that I’ve gained as a leader, which is to keep my head up, to show that everyone else has to keep their head up in order to keep those around me as motivated and as confident as they should be,” 

As wonderful as the speeches and reflections were, it was time to begin the long-awaited game. Throughout the first set, the compatibility and teamwork that the Malden team began to show as they dominated the court and finished off with a 15-10 lead against the Dragons. Teamwork is something that is no stranger to the team. Coelho described volleyball season as his “favorite part of the year” because of the brotherhood. 

However, teamwork alone wasn’t enough to pull through for the next set. Malden began to slip quite a bit throughout the second set which led the Dragons to lead 3-1, which eventually led to the Dragons winning the second set. The Dragons, who were filled with momentum and ecstatic energy, dominated the first half of the third set until the gym became filled with “Let’s go Malden” chants that served almost like fuel to Malden as they took the lead 12-9. However, the Dragons were still able to pull through and took the set at the end. 

“This group is super awesome, practices are a joy every day, they never fail to put smiles on each other’s faces including mine. No complaints. They truly are positive vibes only,” said Jurkowski. 

As the fourth and final set began, Malden gained immense momentum and dominated the first half with a 10-8 lead. However, the Dragons weren’t done for the night and fought back hard to even out the score to an 11-11 tie. Not long after Malden struck back making the score 12-11, but it wasn’t long before the Dragons scored again. 

The two teams went back and forth consecutively, both scoring one point after another. Toward the end, Malden was in a great position as they tied the score with the Dragons to 23-23. From this point on, it was almost certain that Malden was going to score and advance to a fifth set as every strike seemed filled with passion and pure determination to take the win. However, not everything went as planned and at the last minute, the Dragons were able to pull through and gain a point bringing the final score to 23-24. This point brought great controversy and confusion for the Malden team and those in the stands as it was almost like a sneak attack. However, even after the referees discussed the point, it was deemed valid, making the Dragons the winners. 

Although the Boys’ Volleyball team did not end their senior night with the victory that they had planned, that did not stop them from celebrating being able to spend the last three to four years with their seniors. Desouza described their efforts tonight as “nothing new…because we always come together after every point and just keep going on to the next point regardless. We don’t let things tear us down easily,” 

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