If ever the boys volleyball team from The Bishop's School needed some motivation, it got it in the form of a difficult and embarrassing loss.
One day after losing a match in which they had won the opening two games convincingly, Bishop's roared back with a three-game sweep of Coronado on April 20. The Knights defeated the Islanders, 25-10, 25-13, 25-17, putting to rest any doubts about their ability to put away weary opponents.
It was a fine comeback from a disappointing performance the day before, when they had eased to a two-game-to-none lead at home against Tri-City Christian and then played poorly down the stretch in what turned out to be a 3-2 defeat.
"We came out ready to play today," said Bishop's assistant coach Breezy Ambort, who filled in for flu-stricken head coach Said Souikane. "We all made sure we were ready. We just know that we can't let up on any team. It doesn't matter who you play. Anybody, on any given day, can come and beat anybody. So we have to make sure we come and play our best, and hopefully it comes out your way. But you can't give up, and that was obvious (against Tri-City Christian)."
Bishop's had beaten Coronado in the teams' first meeting this season, sweeping the Islanders on the road on March 24.
The Knights beat them soundly the second time around as well. In the first game, they rolled to a 9-1 lead on the serving of Nick Lake, and even as Coronado tried to sneak back into the game with a small spurt that cut its deficit to 15-9, Bishop's surged ahead with seven straight points en route to closing it out.
In game two, Reid Fritz and Lake held serve early on to establish a 5-1 lead, and the Knights played well enough that Coronado was pressured into a handful of unforced errors that staked the Knights to a 15-3 advantage. Coronado never really challenged in the second game, getting only as close as 19-8 and 21-9.
Bishop's had faltered in its third game against Tri-City Christian, losing the momentum it had established in the first two games. Against Coronado, though, they went for the kill, and their aggressive play payed off.
The Knights surged to a lead of 10-4. The Islanders brought it to 12-8, but a handful of short Bishop's rallies helped the Knights to a 21-13 advantage. They finished off the win with three straight points, punctuated by a pair of kills from Lake.
"We should have had an easy win (against Tri-City Christian), but we lost focus in the third game, and that's what really brought us down," senior captain Reid Fritz said. "We really play our best when we're having fun, and we weren't having fun. Nobody was really happy about that, so we realized we needed to come out today not just for the first two games, but for the third game as well, so we would finish them. No one wants a loss."
Bishop's maintained a slight height advantage up front, but benefited most from its solid play all around. The Knights dug and passed well, set their hitters with good balls and finished consistently at the net.
They also dominated on the serve, at times overwhelming Coronado and scoring with aces.
"There was a lot more effort today," Fritz said. "If there was a ball dropping in front of you, you'd see people diving to get the ball. We didn't have any true standouts, because we expect a lot from all of our players, but Nick Lake was hitting really well for us today. And our serving was a lot better today."
With the win, the Knights improved to 10-10 on the season, including tournament play. They started the season a perfect 5-0, and many of their defeats have come in high level tournaments at Rancho Bernardo High School and Scripps Ranch.