The girls volleyball team from The Bishop's School had just come off a tough loss to La Jolla High School and a pair of defeats in a weekend tournament, so when it got a chance to storm to a convincing win, it jumped at the chance.
The Knights eased to victory in three games over Tri-City Christian of Vista on Sept. 15, toppling the Eagles, 25-19, 25-18, 25-7. The triumph pushed the Knights over the .500 mark at 4-3 and got them off on the right track in their first league match of the season.
"Everybody likes to win," Bishop's Coach Tod Mattox said. "We're getting better, and that's the best thing. This team was scrappy. They kept the ball in play and made us have to terminate rallies and serve tough."
Bishop's never trailed in Game 1, and used a string of five straight points to establish a 13-6 lead midway through the game. The Knights were patient in the first game, letting Tri-City Christian make a handful of unforced hitting errors. The Eagles got as close as 22-19, but Bishop's finished it out with three straight points with Leslie Strauss serving.
In the second game, Tri-City Christian kept it close, creeping up on Bishop's at 14-12 and then 19-15. Bishop's always had an answer, though, because after the Eagles took a 3-1 lead, they never pieced together three straight points the rest of the way.
Game 3 was decidedly different, as the Knights rolled to a lopsided victory. They appeared to have worn out the Eagles, whose hitting only got worse as the match wore on. Bishop's surged to a 9-3 lead on the service of Bailey McAllister and Stephanie Hesse, then scored 10 unanswered points to take a 19-5 advantage. Jenna Diggs contributed three kills down the stretch, and Strauss mixed in an ace.
"We have a bunch of young kids, so getting confident and sort of kicking someone's butt isn't a bad thing," Mattox said. "It's kind of nice for us to feel like we can take it to someone. It was nice to serve tough and put pressure on them. The close games are always good. Rally scoring keeps the games closer, so it's hard to blow anybody out."
Junior outside hitter Rachel Cocalis led the Knights with six kills. McAllister had four kills and added 14 digs.
Strauss contributed nine digs. Natalia Wrobel had five aces, and Kate Bell chipped on with six digs.
Mattox said the fact that no one player dominated was a good sign for his team. Spreading the ball around and getting contributions from every player on the floor, he said, will be integral to the Knights' success, especially on a team without any true individual star.
"We had a lot of kids contribute," he said. "There are some people we ask to do certain things, but we have a lot of volleyball players who can do a lot of different things. We have three different people who can set, and we always have a setter in the back row.