But only in one sport, volleyball, does the terminology become lethal: the quest is for kills, which are achieved most effectively with spikes. The team with the most powerful spiker(s) leaping high, coiling their bodies in mid-air, turning their power arm into a sledgehammer that rockets the ball at speeds of 60-plus miles per hour, is usually the one with the greatest chance of winning.
Such was the case at Freedom High School on March 12 as the Falcons hosted the Antioch High Panthers, who are fortunate to have ace spiker John Miu in their front court. It seemed like the Panther game plan was pretty simple: set the ball up for Miu to shotgun over the net and then high-five him after he gets the kill.
When he wasn’t spiking and killing on offense, Miu was also one of his team’s most effective defenders, blocking many shots and at one point diving to the floor for a dig in which it appeared that he got no more than one or two fingers under the ball, preventing it from hitting the floor and sending it up to a waiting teammate for a score.
Miu is a senior in his fourth year of varsity volleyball and an all-team BVAL selection last year. His expertise and experience are a vital asset to a mostly young team fielding eight sophomores. “He’s definitely a good team leader,” said Antioch Coach Rick Barton. “He’s definitely the heart and soul of the team.”
Heart and soul can go a long way in sports, and Miu led the Panthers to a 3-1 win over Freedom. The Falcons did not go down quietly, however. They took the first game to extra points, losing 29-31, tied the match with a 25-22 victory in game two, fought hard in game three, losing 22-25, and finally succumbed 21-25 in the fourth game.
The Falcons don’t appear to have a star like Miu on their team. But a standout in game two was the strong serving of Zach Vettech, whose tough line drives won point after point, putting his team up 21-13 before Antioch got possession of the ball back.
Despite his team’s victory on an opponent’s court, Barton emphasized the need for improvement. “I am happy that we won,” he said. “But we have got a long ways to go as a team to be competitive with the top teams. We have a young team, so they make mistakes. They are learning. They practice real hard and are trying to move up to being varsity players.”