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Volleyball victories belong to the Vikings girls

For La Jolla High School, the girls

volleyball season couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Fueled by a three-game sweep of city rival The Bishop’s School on Sept. 13, the Vikings opened the 2005 campaign by going 3-0 in the season’s first week.

The match against Bishop’s, which came in its season opener, couldn’t have better captured the two teams’ neighborhood rivalry, despite the quick nature with which La Jolla dispatched its opponent. The Vikings won the first game, 25-10, but then had to negotiate two nail-biters in wins of 27-25 and 26-24 to close it out.

Had a few points gone the other way in Game 2 and Game 3, the Vikings and Knights could easily have been playing a full five-game match.

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“We were able to pull this one out in three games, but this season, there are so many teams in San Diego that are very, very equal,” La Jolla Coach Dave Jones said. “On any given day, three or four different teams could be on top. It will be interesting where we start and where we end up. It might be a situation where everybody kind of beats up on each other all the way down to the wire.”

The Vikings put the Bishop’s match away by rallying in Game 3 from deficits of 8-3 and 21-14. After Bishop’s surged to that 21-14 lead as Torie Hadeler held serve for six straight points, the Knights wouldn’t score consecutive points the rest of the day.

An Alex Kearney kill and two unforced errors by the Knights got the Vikings within a point at 23-22, and after the Knights’ Rachel Cocalis registered a kill that put her team one point away from sending it to a Game 4, the Vikings rattled off four straight points on Jennifer Keane’s serve to close it out.

“I wasn’t surprised to have some close games here. I was happy we were able to get through it in three,” Jones said. “It came very close to going four, so that comeback was huge. It was kind of a confidence builder for us to be able to do that.”

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In Game 2, La Jolla built a large early lead, but allowed Bishop’s back into it and had to battle down the stretch. The Vikings led, 12-6 and 15-9, before the Knights stormed back to tie the game at 15 and eventually take a 19-17 lead. After that point, La Jolla never led until it snuck ahead at 24-23 on a Kearney kill.

Bishop’s took a 25-24 lead with kills from Jenna Diggs and Cocalis, but the Vikings rallied for three straight points to win. The first two came on unforced errors by Bishop’s, and Lily Durwood finished the game out with an ace.

Game 1 belonged to La Jolla from the start. The Vikings built leads of 7-2, 11-7 and 15-9 before rattling off eight unanswered points on the serve of Durwood to get within closing distance.

“They have a really great team, and I think maybe they were just a little bit off today,” La Jolla Coach Jones said of Bishop’s, which had started the season 6-0 and had won the San Diego Classic tournament the weekend before.

Bishop’s Coach Tod Mattox was not disappointed with being swept because two of the three games were competitive, and said the loss served as a stepping stone for his team.

“They played very well, and they got off to a good start,” Mattox said. “We didn’t play well in the first game, so that got them going. We had game points in both Games 2 and 3. We didn’t do a good job closing out games, and there are a bunch of small reasons for that. We need to get back in the gym. We’ll be all right.”

Mattox said La Jolla played the big points very well. “A 3-0 score looks like a blowout, but it very easily could have been 2-1 us after three games. With the exception of Game 1, I thought we competed hard.”

The Knights were led offensively by Cocalis, who contributed nine kills, and Hadeler, who had six.

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For La Jolla, Cameron Smith had 11 kills, and Kearney added nine. Durwood pitched in with 20 assists, and Avalon Preisondorfer had five blocks.

Both coaches said the opportunity to play against a school just around the corner in the season’s first week made for an eventful start to the year.

“We know a lot of their kids and their families, so it’s fun,” Mattox said.

Added Jones: “The parents usually get into it. A lot of these parents and kids have known each other for a long time.”