Cardinal Gibbons showed just a few jitters Tuesday night in it’s 25-11, 25-13, 25-7 volleyball sweep against Ravenscroft.
In their first game of the season, the Crusaders even showed a little bit of rust. Besides, most volleyball teams in the state began a week ago.
More importantly, however, Cardinal Gibbons put on display it’s depth.
The Crusaders set effectively, attacked hard and often and forced several free balls that made it happen in the first place.
Cardinal Gibbons coach Logan Barber said this squad is a little better than last year’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A champion.
For its new PAC-6 Conference mates, that may be just a bit scary.
Ravenscroft was just one of four matches Cardinal Gibbons plays before its conference opener. It was tough for the Crusaders to find opponents after two Wake County athletic conferences changed their bylaws to ban playing against non-public schools in June. The Crusaders will travel to a tournament at Mercer Academy in Louisville, Ky. this weekend for a few games.
“Obviously, it was unfortunate how everything played out as far as trying to make the schedule this year,” Barber said, “but as far as coaching our kids, we just feel we should control the things we can control.”
Down 2-0 in the first set, Cardinal Gibbons (1-0) quickly climbed ahead. A Tori Dozier block tied the game at 5-5 before the Crusaders cruised.
They took advantage when the Ravens (3-1) left a ball floating at the net, as Dozier led the match with six blocks, adding, with a stylish set up, 14 assists.
Briley Brind’Amour sent down a game-best 10 kills, with a thundering cut silencing a volley late in the third set.
Emma Longley and her lethal swings added four kills for Cardinal Gibbons, while Dillon Wingo led the Ravens with three. Paige Gordon had a team-high six assists for Ravenscroft.
“Ravenscroft is a good school; we play them every year,” Barber said. “(The sweep was) definitely a confidence-builder going into this weekend, to kind of go out there and put everything into motion. It was a very positive experience for us.”
Three who mattered
Brind-Amour, Cardinal Gibbons: The 2014 title game MVP led the game with 10 kills and had her game face on. She pulled up her sleeves in the back row and was ready to roll.
Dozier, Cardinal Gibbons: The stylish setter did more than pass. If you left a ball alone with her at the net, she handled it. As far as setting up, her taps were part of the reason Ravenscroft couldn’t get its offense going several times throughout the match.
Wingo, Ravenscroft: Her plays helped keep the team’s energy alive throughout the game.
What worked: Cardinal Gibbons’ depth. When Dozier wasn’t available to set, someone else stepped up. The Crusaders attacked from front, back and outside, so it was tough to gauge the areas that needed coverage at such a fast pace.
Needs improvement: Ravenscroft sent over too many free balls. Against a team with good ball-handling, that’s a no-no. Free balls likely gave the Cardinal Gibbons’ offense everything it desired.
Out of bounds: Cardinal Gibbons’ uniforms weren’t delivered in time for the game. The officials worked patiently with the Crusaders as they scrambled for old unis and changed just about every number on Tuesday’s roster. No. 19 was even distributed twice – but Barber caught it well before the first serve.