What began as one of Malibu's most beautiful days ended in beauty as well. The girls varsity volleyball players boarded a bus on Thursday with lots of energy and excitement. Their destination was Anaheim for a match against Fairmont Prep in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4A playoffs.
Athletic Director Chris Neier had thankfully provided a "deluxe" bus, which took the girls on a bumper-to-bumper ride that lasted about two and a half hours. A little worn from the long journey, the athletes collected themselves, refocused and warmed up for the match with a renewed energy.
But the long bus ride had taken its toll, as a misplaced foot during the warm-up had starter Coral Silverberg wincing in pain for what seemed like an eternity. The look on head coach Carlos Gray's face was telling.
"Well, my starting setter is out and now my leading defensive starter is down," he said.
But Silverberg, a player who gives 110 percent, spent 20 minutes with the trainer, who reinforced and rewrapped her ankle. Silverberg stepped onto the court moments before the game began to fire up her teammates and show the heart this Malibu team will always be remembered for.
Fairmont is a tall, well-coached and talented team that matched up well with the Sharks. The Huskies, inspired by a supportive home crowd, played well in the first game. Malibu played tough and had some great plays, but the Sharks fell just short of winning. Game two also was a competitive contest. Malibu got into more of a flow, but again fell just short of winning.
The third game was the best and closest one of the match. The home crowd seemed to fire up its team anytime Malibu got close, and the Sharks again fell short in the game, losing the match 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-16).
"We were a great team this year, but even the professional teams have a slight off-game," coach Gray said after the match. "Tonight, we missed by so little, but just enough for the Huskies to take the win. I wish we had played them in Malibu."
Senior Maddy Rotman said, "I want to thank my teammates. This was the greatest experience of my high school career."
Junior Gigi Hadid said, "I love my team with all my heart. No other team comes every, every time, every game and works their butts off like this team."
Nine seniors played their last high school volleyball game. They are done, but not forgotten. Everyone who attended the matches this season saw that the bar was raised to a new level of athleticism and elegance that future teams will aspire to reach.
The beauty of living in the costal city of Malibu is that we get to see changes every day in the ocean. The Sharks played that way, every day, making adjustments to get win after win. A passing storm called Fairmont caught the Sharks a little off-guard and took away their CIF dreams. But this too shall pass for these driven girls, and a new chance at success will come.
As a writer, it was an honor to cover the matches this year.