School goes wild at first-ever home game on campus

By Ari Feuer, Sports Editor

For the first time in Firehawk history, Shalhevet hosted a home game at home.

The girls of the volleyball team did not need to pile into a rented school bus to drive to a “home” game at Fairfax High, and the Westside JCC wasn’t the venue either.  Rather, an opposing team stepped out of its van and onto the faded concrete of Shalhevet’s parking lot, to play on Shalhevet’s flaming red-and-black-tiled Sport Court.

On Oct. 11, the girls’ volleyball team made quick work of the Summit View West Eagles, dispatching the opposing team in just three sets before a crowd of exhilarated students and teachers.

“The spirit and support from everyone that was there definitely helped us win the game,” said Firehawk co-captain Raquel Garshofsky.

It was just part of a largely successful start to this year’s volleyball season.  Under second-year coach Megan Bishop, the girls have threatened YULA’s monopoly on the Firehawk-Panther rivalry and posted an impressive winning record in league play— all in addition to making school history.

Half an hour before the match against the Eagles began, commotion was already stirring in the halls of the school. Athletes of both teams were strutting around in their jerseys and shorts – a sight never before seen at Shalhevet.

When students left their minyanim from Mincha about 15 minutes before the start of the game, those who’d missed them in the hallways were startled to find two teams of athletes preparing to play on the Sport Court.

“There was disbelief that a game was happening here,” said Athletic Director David Paradzik.

A crowd of about 75 students – almost half the school – gathered to witness both teams warming up before many had to disperse for class.  But even after the bell rang for 8th period, a steady crowd of students with free periods kept the spirit and cheering going.  History teacher Mr. Mullin moved his eighth-period class that overlooks the court to another part of the building.

Even the opposing team enjoyed the excited response of the student body.

“It’s wonderful,” said Eagles’ coach Adam Legg as the game began. “I can tell it’s going to be a fun game.”

The sun shone brightly as the first serve flew over the net at 3:30 in the afternoon, and the Firehawks held control for a great majority of the match.

“The support definitely helped the girls,” said Firehawk Coach Megan Bishop.

Behind the superb play of starters such as the co-captains, the Firehawks snagged the first set with a 25-18 win.

Teamwork was exemplary throughout the match’s many spikes, digs and serves.

With co-captain Stephanie Salem setting up many of the home team’s returns, her teammates took turns spiking or bumping the ball over the net.  The opposing team seemed confused at the beginning, and many of these hits fell down without much resistance from the Eagles.

“Having a home game that everyone could come to helped pump us up,” said Stephanie.  “It encouraged us to play at our best and represent Shalhevet at home.”

By the middle of the second set, Coach Bishop subbed in a few reserves, and Summit View West took pounced on the opportunity.  The Eagles took a 22-20 lead towards the end of the set, but the Firehawks rallied back to score five straight points and leave the competition in a 2-0 hole.

In the last set, Shalhevet led the entire way in a 25-19 clincher.

“It was inspiring to see the lady Firehawks fighting for every point on their home court,” Max Lipner, a sophomore who watched the game, said.

In another major event, a crowd of around 150 watch the Firehawks execute an unprecedented run at YULA’s traditional hold over their yearly volleyball games at the JCC Oct. 17.

Although the Panthers took the match in three sets, Shalhevet only lost the final two sets by a combined 5 points. The games were nowhere near the usual blowouts.

“The game went pretty well,” said junior starter Haddar Azrad.  “It was a very close game, and I know we could have beaten them with a little more focus.”

In league play, the Firehawks boast an impressive 3-1 record, and YULA accounts for the final two losses in Shalhevet’s 4-3 overall record.  The team has prevailed over Summit View West, Summit View Valley, and L.A. Adventist (twice) in intra-league play.