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Knights to kick off season in Rally Classic

Last fall, The Bishop’s School won the CIF San Diego Section Division IV girls’ volleyball title and advanced deep into the state playoffs. And if potential means anything, the Knights could be even better this season.

Bishop’s will get a chance to kick off its title defense with an exhibition match on Aug. 31 as part of the sixth-annual Rally Classic. The event takes place at Sweetwater High School and allows the eight teams involved the opportunity to get one extra match under their belts before starting the season. It will also feature some of the area’s most successful teams.

The Rally Classic is scheduled to include games featuring Ramona, Santana, Montgomery, Calexico, West Hills and Sweetwater. Games begin at 4:45 p.m., with the final game scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. Bishop’s will face Division II champion Scripps Ranch at 7:05 p.m.

“We think playing Scripps Ranch is a nice match for us - they have a lot of club players over there and it’s a big school, so we should be pushed a little bit,” Bishop’s coach Tod Mattox said. “When you get in your gym, you’re excited, but until you face competition, you really don’t know where you stand.

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“We’ve played so much volleyball already that our kids want to play a match. I’m happy to do it, too, because it gives us a better picture of where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on in the gym.”

Bishop’s has experience on its side this year. The Knights’ roster boasts five seniors, including setter Ina Kamenova, defensive specialist Hannah Seber, outside hitter Maddie Lord and middle blocker Thea Derrough.

With so many players back who have experienced the feeling of winning a section title and playing against some of California’s best teams in the state playoffs, Mattox feels this team can go far.

“We have a pretty big contingent back and some talented young kids, too,” Mattox said. “We’re probably as good, if not better, than we’ve ever been. It’s exciting, but I think there are a lot of good teams out there, too.”

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Kamenova, who has committed to play at Northeastern University, is among the best setters in the area. Derrough is an all-CIF player who is dominant in the middle.

Junior hitter Kristen Casey may be the best hitter in the Coastal League, and Lord is expected to compliment Casey as an exceptionally hard hitter.

“For us, this is really big,” Mattox said. “We have all these pieces - the question for us now will be ball control.”