West sweeps opener against St. Joseph
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A player on one side of the net found the matchup scary. Another found it awkward. However, one might describe Tuesday's volleyball game between Victoria West and St. Joseph, it was certainly something different.
St. Joseph had never played either of Victoria's two current public schools before Tuesday night. Across the net, the Warriors were breaking in a glut of new girls.
As the latter games between the two tightened, a rivalry, albeit a friendly one, was on the verge of blossoming.
Not even a 25-10, 28-26, 25-21 sweep from West could dampen the buzz surrounding the game.
The victorious Warriors understood they have to keep their focus throughout matches, while the Lady Flyers say they will work on their passing as the season wears on.
St. Joseph outside hitter Carly Boles said the team entered Tuesday confident because they played, and defeated, Palacios in five games Monday night.
Boles transferred from West in the offseason, setting up a dynamic where her former teammates started their season playing against her.
"It was awkward," said Boles, who had a team-high 10 kills. "Seeing all the people I played with was really different. It made it more exciting and the anticipation grew."
Maybe for Boles it did, but not the Warriors. West libero Michelle Rendon said playing against her former teammate was "scary" because she, "knew she was going to bring it."
If Rendon was frightened, she didn't show it, leading all players with 18 digs.
Once the match was over Kelsea Kalich and Boles gave each other a huge hug. This involved Kalich getting a 50-foot running start and Boles jumping into her arms. Ellen Hermes was also involved in this massive group hug in a corner of the Victoria West gym.
West won the first eight points of the match, behind Hermes' serving and setting.
Meanwhile, Kalich showed early, and often, she will be the Warriors primary offensive threat this year - finishing with 15 kills and 10 digs. She will be complimented by middle hitters Rachel Hamon Brooke Kirkpatrick, as well as Blair Butschek and Deane Gallop on the outside.
"In the second game we thought we could slack off," said Gallop, who had nine kills in the first start of her varsity career. "We lost our momentum and they gained the momentum. In the last game we knew we had to bring it."
St. Joseph (1-1) had leads in the second and third game. The Flyers had a game point in the second, but a quick set from Hermes tied things at 25. A pair of Kalich kills later, and the game was over.
St. Joseph libero Peyton Cuellar had 13 digs on the evening. The junior said the loss was "a real good eye-opener on what we need to work on."
"The coaches were getting on us so that game we picked it up to show them what we're doing and what we're about," Cuellar said of the closer games to close the match.
Despite the deficit, Cuellar still managed to share a smile with Boles early in the third game after a miscommunication gave West a 3-1 lead. It was a light-hearted moment in a contest the Flyers co-head coach Allyson Griffin scheduled to provide a tougher test before entering district play this season.
Matches like Tuesday's, no matter how awkward, they may be to win, might pay dividends for both teams later this fall. For now, the Warriors relished yet another season-opening victory.
"It's a good feeling," said West head coach Sandy Longoria. "The girls really stepped up and played well. I anticipated certain kids would play well and I'm proud they didn't let me, or their teammates down."