How high school teams remind me why I like sports
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006
Updated: Thursday, July 12, 2012 15:07
Two Saturdays ago, I had a familiar decision to make. I could either watch television or I could do homework. Usually my decision isn't the most productive one - this time was no different.
As I flipped through my 600 channels, I came across a girl's high school volleyball match. Not even me, a sports fanatic, watches girl's high school volleyball for fun, but this particular match peaked my interest.
It was the Southern Section championship match between Mira Costa, a preppy high school in Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Union, which is located about a mile away from Mira Costa, but is considered the red-headed stepchild to Mira Costa.
I have interned and freelanced for a newspaper in Torrance, the Daily Breeze, so as a reporter I have had a chance to occasionally cover the two schools, including their girl's volleyball teams. Because I have talked with the coaches and a couple of players over the years, I decided to watch the match instead of watching another movie on HBO on Demand.
Although, I already knew what was going to happen.
Calling Mira Costa the Yankees of high school volleyball doesn't give them justice. The Mustangs have won the state championship the last two seasons, were 33-0 this season and were riding a 55-match winning streak. On top of that, Mira Costa was the No. 1 ranked team, not in California, but in the United States going into the section final.
Redondo is literally in the same league as Mira Costa, but fugitively they aren't.
The Sea Hawks had seven losses this season, three of which were to Mira Costa, and Redondo's head coach, Tommy Chaffins, had lost all 16 times he faced his school's rival.
Going into the match, it wasn't a question whether if Mira Costa was going to win, but a question of how quickly.
Although not quite as expected, the match was going as planned through the first two games.
Mira Costa had little trouble in the first game, winning 25-16, but in the second game Mira Costa didn't look like the volleyball superpower it is. It only beat Redondo 25-22.
"Wow," I thought as I laid on my roommate's green leather couch watching the match on an 18-inch television. "Redondo only lost by three points."
Although somewhat exciting, Redondo would have to win the next three games to win the best-of-five match. The Sea Hawks were just dying slower than expected.
Then in games three and four, the unbelievable happened.
Maybe it was the pressure on Mira Costa of being on national television and having to win every single match it plays, or maybe the team was just having a bad day, or maybe it was because the Redondo players were all playing the best matches of their lives. Whatever the reason, Redondo beat Mira Costa 25-23 and 28-26 to force a decisive game five.
I wasn't lying down anymore. In about 30 minutes, I went from feeling pathetic spending my Saturday night watching a high school volleyball match to watching what could possibly be the greatest upset I have ever seen.
In game five, it seemed the world was back in order as Mira Costa jumped out to a five-point lead as the two teams raced to 15. Redondo chipped away, tying the match at 10, but Mira Costa scored the next two points to lead 12-10.
Then, like it had all match, Redondo made one last comeback, scoring five of the next six points to win the match.
When you spend as much time as I do on sports, it is impossible to not ask yourself, what's the point? Is this really something to spend a lifetime doing? Couldn't I be more productive to society doing something, anything, else?
But as I sat in astonishment watching the Redondo volleyball team cry and celebrate a moment all of them will remember for the rest of their lives, I realized why I'm so passionate about this thing called sports.
It is because the impossible and unbelievable can happen, and if it can happen on a volleyball court, then maybe, just maybe, it can happen in real life. Sports gives people a chance to do something they normally don't do - hope.
The two teams played again in the state tournament last night, and although as I write this and don't know the result of that match, it's safe to say lightning didn't strike twice.
That doesn't matter, though. Just once, Redondo beat Mira Costa in high school's girls' volleyball. That's why I like sports.