Playoffs Round 2 - the Quarter Finals
The first round of playoffs are over, and we are quickly into the 2nd round. Below are some highlights and opinions on the first round of 16.
#16 Blair Upsets #1 Einstein
In an unexpected turn of events, #16 Blair took down #1 in the first round. This upset is further evidence of just how much weaker the East division was than Mid-county, who we've been saying is the strongest division in the county all season. Blair could not win a single regular season match in Mid-county, with teams like Churchill, WJ, and Wootton, while Einstein enjoyed an easy undefeated run in the East. If this match is any indication, our prediction is that the East division teams will fall as soon as they play anyone outside their group. Look for Blake to be upset by Blair, and Wheaton to lose to Northwest.
Top Half vs Bottom Half
This year's seedings were based off regular season record, as they should be, but due to Covid restrictions and teams only playing within their division, the regular season records were largely skewed. Teams playing in the East had their records inflated due to a very easy strength of schedule. We now have a situation where most of the East teams (Einstein, Gaithersburg, Blake, Paint Branch, Wheaton) were placed in the top half, making the top half of the bracket significantly weaker than the bottom. Blair (0-8 regular season) now has a very real chance at getting to the semi-finals, and Northwest (7-2 regular season) has a clear path to the finals. How it plays out remains to be seen, but my prediction is that Northwest will fully take advantage of their opportunity and end up in the County Championship.
The Bottom Half Quarters = The Semis
In contrast, the quarter finals on the bottom half of the bracket have set up some very intense matches early in the tournament. Tomorrow's games are WJ vs Churchill at Churchill, and Clarksburg vs Wootton at Clarksburg. In our opinion, this should have been the semi-finals for the county championship. Keep in mind that WJ has taken Churchill to 5 sets before, and so has Wootton. Clarksburg has yet to be seriously tested this season, but they will definitely face a challenge in the Wootton Patriots, who come out of the Mid-county division at 4-4.
Rochester Can-Am Throws A Monkey Wrench
Another unintended consequence of having such a late start to the Spring season is that we are now losing players for all sorts of late-in-the-school year types of events. This past weekend was the Rochester Can-Am bid tournament, which several club players from Moco participated in. The tournament lasted through Monday, which prevented Northwest's starting H1, Andrew Ahn, from participating in the rescheduled opening round Poolesville match. Owen Ehlers, H2 for Northwest, was able to drive back from Rochester early to play for the Jags and help lead their team to a 3-0 victory. Nathaniel Wu, starting H2 for Churchill, suffered an injury at this same tournament and will now be unavailable for the rest of the playoffs. Fortunately for Churchill and Northwest, both teams were able to get past the first round short-handed. We will see how Churchill fares after a late season shuffle in their lineup, and a really unfortunate injury to one of their starting outside hitters.
We are hearing reports that several seniors were missing from the playoffs due to beach week. With graduation happening before the end of the volleyball season, some players decided to go to the beach instead of finishing their high school volleyball careers. Whether the players who decided to leave early will negatively impact their teams remains to be seen, but this is certainly a situation we didn't see coming.
Watch the Games!
Restrictions on spectators have been lifted just in time for the playoffs. We hope you go watch a game and support Montgomery County Boys volleyball! We wish the best of luck to all of the teams still alive in the 2021 MCPS Boys Volleyball season.
Thank you for reading! As always, if your team is looking for spirit wear, uniforms, or warm-ups, or if you just want some cool volleyball gear, check out 1-on-none at https://1-on-none.com and give us a follow at @1_on_none!