Girls volleyball wins CCS for first time in 43 years

Kate Mallery, Copy Editor

The Gunn girls volleyball team recently took home their first Central Coast Section (CCS) title in 43 years in an upset win over Los Gatos High School. Scoring 20 points to Los Gatos’s 18, Gunn won its first CCS title since 1976. Additionally, Gunn was the section runner-up in 1980 and went on to win a regional crown that season, but has not come close to the title until now. The program has had its ups and downs, bouncing between the upper and lower leagues. Last year, they hired a new coach, Baiba McGibben, who played on the Latvian national team started coaching at Gunn. “Baiba is the best!” Senior Odeya Russo said. “Although she is tough, she does it out of love to make us the best we can be.” In 2018, they came first in the El Camino league. This year, they were moved up to the tougher De Anza division and played against teams like Palo Alto High School and Los Gatos High School. Senior Livia Bednarz admitted that she knew this season would be tougher, but was excited for the new competition. “We lost some fantastic players from the 2018 season, but we have a really strong program with a lot of solid, tough athletes.” Bednarz said. I think the whole team was excited to see what we could do against some of the more tena- cious teams in the league.”

The Titans fought hard throughout league play to finish with a 5-7 record. Although the record might not show it, the team has kept up with the best teams in the league, losing many very close games. This season was different from most because many players had to play positions that they had never played before. “We all became very diverse players and were able to step up in any position if needed,” senior Rachel Grant said. Due to their record, the Titans received the sixth seed, but they did not let this faze them. In the semifinal game they beat Mountain View, coming from behind to win in two sets, making the final for the first time since 1980.

For the CCS finals, the Titans matched up against the Los Gatos Wildcats, who they had previ- ously had a close loss to. “I think we had a new motivation and energy going into the final game,” senior Odeya Russo said. “Gunn volleyball hadn’t won a title in so long and that just made us want to win even more.” Grant noticed a change of energy between league and post season play. “We started to be a lot more positive and we learned how to play a lot better as a team,” She said. During the final game in Titan Gym, the team felt overwhelming support from Gunn fans. Seniors Paul Zhao and Vishnu Srinivnas led big chants. According to Bednarz, the support from the fans “made all the difference.” “Each player individually really stepped up and played their best game. We took advantage of our incredible outside, Rachel Grant and Odeya Russo, constantly.” Bed- narz said. “Our team is shorter than last year, so good defense and staying strong on the service line was essential.”

The Titans defeated the Wildcats in just three sets. According to Bednarz, during timeouts, the Titans would come together in a huddle and point up to the CCS banner above. They would say, “guys, 10 more points until our year is up there!” When the gym erupted with cheers, all of Titans ran onto the court. In the final game, the team was able to put the ball down and finish when they were ahead, which made an enormous difference. Many key seniors are graduating this year and the titans are sad to have the season come to a close. “I’m going to miss hanging with my team- mates everyday practice because we got so close,” Grant said.