Firehawk boys volleyball qualifies for playoffs, will face Newbury Park Adventist tonight

EXCITEMENT%3A+Boys+Volleyball+team+huddles+together+with+Coach+Jelly+Castellanos+after+a+three+to+zero+win+over+the+Animo+Leadership+Aztecs%2C+ensuring+a+spot+in+the+playoffs%2C+April+13.

Photo by Adi Liebenthal

EXCITEMENT: Boys Volleyball team huddles together with Coach Jelly Castellanos after a three to zero win over the Animo Leadership Aztecs, ensuring a spot in the playoffs, April 13.

By Zane Mendelson, Staff Writer

“Playoffs gonna be lit,” said junior Oz Shalom on the court, immediately after the Shalhevet Firehawk boys volleyball team clinched a spot in the regional playoffs April 13. It happened at the end of a three-sets-to-none win over the Animo Leadership Aztecs in the Shalhevet gym.

Tonight at 6 p.m the Firehawks will play the Newbury Park Adventist Gators, located in Thousand Oaks and holding a record of 6-0, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs, where they will look to keep their season alive and move on to the second round.  Shalhevet will travel to Thousand Oaks due to the Gators having the higher seed.

Volleyball games are played best out of five, and in order for a team to win a set they have to score 25 points. The first team to score 25 points wins the set; if you win three sets, you win the game. 

Shalhevet won each set by double-digit points. The first set was 25-4, the second 25-14, and the third set 25-11. It appeared as though the Firehawks pounced on their opponents every chance they had, showing good defense and connecting on what seemed like all of their spike opportunities.

It appeared as though the Firehawks pounced on their opponents every chance they had, showing good defense and connecting on what seemed like all of their spike opportunities. ”

The Firehawks have been working towards the playoffs all year. But after an 0-2 start to the season, people were skeptical if the Firehawks would get there. 

“After the game I was more than proud of my team,” said sophomore J.J. Stoff. “For me watching my team grow and pushing them to the limit really pays off.” 

It’s the first time in school history that the Firehawk boys volleyball team has gone to the Southern Section playoffs. The team was only started four years ago and for the last two years had no season because of the pandemic. 

Players said this was the first year the team has been able to mesh and gain interest from students, setting up the year. 

“Spending four hours in the gym really pays off because the majority of practice is spent working together,” said J.J. in a post-game interview, also adding chemistry as something they achieved this year. “Chemistry is our top priority.”

The team was 7-4 on the year overall, and 6-4 in league play. That put them third in the Mulholland League, giving them the last spot in the playoffs. 

Coming into the game, the Firehawks were on a two-game losing streak, after dropping a league game 3-0 against Wiseburn-Da Vinci, as well as a 3-2 loss against Ambassador. That raised the stakes at the April 13 game.

However, in their previous matchup with the Aztecs on March 30 the Firehawks won three sets to zero, giving them the boost of confidence they needed heading into the game. 

Seniors Jakey Kahtan and Ari Eliezri had a beautiful connection, as Jakey set up Ari for numerous spikes throughout the game. Senior Andrew Melamed also contributed to the win, demonstrating his defensive prowess and vital communication.