With the Boston City League Volleyball All-Star game tied 20-20 in the fourth set on Saturday afternoon, Nancy Liu had the ball in her hand on the service line and one thought in her head: Get the ball over the net.
“I was actually really nervous because every time we [practice] serving my coach is always like ‘Just get the ball over,’” the O’Bryant senior said. “Sometimes you want to try to win it but my mind was just ‘Get it over, do it simple’ and let my teammates do the rest of the work.”
That game plan paid off as the Red team scored the next four points off Liu’s service before ultimately defeating the Blue team two points later, 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21) at UMass Boston’s Clark Athletic Center.
Liu was happy to keep the match from going to a fifth and decisive set.
“I just worked with my teammates, that’s the most important part,” she said. “Getting the ball over the net is just one important part and the rest is you have to depend on your teammates. Just keep in simple.”
Perhaps the biggest helping hand came during a long rally that ultimately put the Red squad up, 22-20. Just when it seemed like the Blue team would grab the point and the momentum, English High’s Massiel Ramirez plucked a ball at its apex above the net and managed to find an open piece of floor.
“It was great, I didn’t meant to do it,” she said. “It was great. I didn’t think I was going to come here but I made it.”
Boston International’s Antonea Green said her Blue team struggled with the Red team’s serve all day.
“Today was a good game, we played our heart out and it just happened,” she said. “We just hesitated and when they started serving we started getting scared. Other than that we did a good job and I’m proud of them and I’m looking forward to next year.
“It was amazing and I enjoyed it. It was my first year playing.”
The game was the last high school volleyball game for several of the players, including the Red team’s Heidy Barreiro, who helped Boston English win its fourth city title in five years.
“It means a lot because all the hard work paid off,” Barreiro said of winning the city championship. “We worked hard together.”
The Blue squad was coached by Madison Park coach Gladys Byrd, who led the Blue team to a 3-0 sweep last year at Emmanuel College.
“In the All-Star game it’s more important to play all the kids than to win I told the kids ‘It’s not about winning and losing, it’s about being an All-Star and being able to represent yourself and your school and your division,” Byrd said.
English coach Hardy Mondesir co-coached the Red squad with O’Bryant coach Trudy Fisher. Mondesir gave Fisher all the credit.
“She knew the players and knew when to put in the right players and the defense definitely helped,” he said. “This is my first time. it was fun. It was definitely good to get a more collaborative effort. We had a lot of good players offensively and defensively. It was fun."
And Fisher credited Liu’s solid serving in the final points of the fourth set.
“She’s a pretty consistent server and we put her in and she came through,” Fisher said. “I think the kids enjoyed playing. I think this is one of the best All-Star games I’ve seen in a long time.
“It was important to them so they are the ones that did all the work.”
It was a pretty important way for Liu to cap her senior season of volleyball.
“It’s pretty good, I had a great experience in my senior year,” she said. “I’m going to miss volleyball after this.”
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