Every great sport has to have a great rivalry: Real Madrid has Barça, the Red Sox have the Yankees, Rafael Nadal has Roger Federer, the Celtics have the Lakers, and so on and so forth. This is very true in Puerto Rican high school sports, especially with my school's volleyball team.
Our first senior varsity volleyball game of the season versus our rivals, Academia Maria Reina, is a HUGE event for the Colegio Puertorriqueño de Niñas community, and has been so for many years. Before, our main rival used to be Academia San Jose, but the tradition of this classic game has continued with the intensity of the sport.
For this game, our team needs all of our support, and so, our Student Council rallies everyone to go to our traditional "caravana" to the tournament. A caravana is basically our upperclassmen (who are licensed to drive and have cars) drive girls from the lower grades to a neighborhood close by, so we can prepare to fully support our team. This allows all of the middle and high school to bond over our school spirit and enter the tournament in the best and loudest way possible, showing that we are the best team. Just look at how we entered the San Ignacio tournament last year.
Being schools with some of the most competitive players in the league, this game hasn't always been easy. I remember going to my first "Clásico" in 7th grade, and being so devastated as our Blue Jays lost the last and final set. It continued to be like that, until something happened when I was in 10th grade. That school year, we had gotten a few new students who joined the team, and they certainly strengthened our team, with the junior varsity team beating Maria Reina in their first game, and winning multiple tournaments afterwards.
With our 2-1 win at the San Ignacio tournament, and being one of the top 2 teams in the league last year, CPN certainly had a title to uphold this year. Especially with some of our best player graduating last year, it was going to be interesting to see how the team's dynamic would change with our new players.
We entered with hopes and spirits high. faces painted white and blue, our megaphones blasting out our cheers. As we scored the first point you could hear our screams overpowering those of the Maria Reina crowd. As the game continued, even as our opponents scored, we still cheered on our girls until they grabbed the final point in a very close first set.
It was incredibly nervewracking to see the team lead the second set of the game, as I had seen Maria Reina make surprising comebacks in the second set in past years, making it go onto a third and final set that could end either way. And there we were, just one point away from winning our game, and our newest player, a 10th grader who was taller than most of the seniors on the team, was serving. As she served, all of the players and the CPN crowd silently watched the ball mark the final without even being touched by the opposing team.
The rush of the CPN caravana to our team on the court was insane; everyone seemed to run with their phones and scream in celebration, filming videos for snapchat announcing to the world that we had won, as we joined the team for a gigantic huddle. I was almost crying at this point, as I realized that this was my last "Clásico" game ever and the fact that we won made it that much better and even more bittersweet. It may have been just another win for the school, but for me, this meant the beginning of the end.