Bishop Carroll opened its volleyball season Tuesday night running the 6-2 offense, a change from the past when it ran a 5-1 exclusively with All-Metro setter Emmie Rech.
But while the offense was a change on varsity, it was nothing new to Bishop Carroll senior setters Sarah Balderas and Morgan Thome. For the past two seasons, the setters played primarily junior varsity running the 6-2 offense.
"Almost everyone on this team can hit," Balderas said, "and we really want to use all our hitters."
Including Balderas and Thome, whose time on JV allowed them to focus on their hitting skills. That was key Tuesday as Balderas had six kills in Carroll's 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 sweep of visiting Heights.
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"Morgan and Sarah both had Emmie Rech ahead of them, but they were willing to work as hitters on JV," Carroll coach Rita Mernagh said. "They've been setters the whole time. Their job on JV was to be hitter-setters, and it's paid off in the long run. They have such a good work ethic."
Thome had a kill in the opening game, Balderas added four in the final game. Bailey Fischer also had six kills for Carroll, Jana Reichenberger had five and Chloe Nicholas four.
"We work on hitting so much, and it's so nice to just kill it," Balderas said. "All our hitters did real well, and our middles hit really well down the middle. Really knew where to hit it. And our outside did really well; they hit line and angle and all their spots on the court."
Carroll started slowly in Game 1, missing five serves as Heights took a 14-9 lead on one of those misses. But Heights handed over control of the game when it committed five consecutive unforced errors, allowing Carroll to tie the score.
Carroll then rattled off eight unanswered points, including seven served by Courtney Karst, for the 24-17 lead. Heights committed an unforced error to end the game.
Heights had 16 unforced errors in the first game and added 14 in the second. The Falcons were a touch slow and simply failed to string solid plays together, even when Crystal Whitten, who had 13 kills in the match, was in the front row. Isabel Valdez added four kills for Heights.
"At times (we played well), but the thing is, at times isn't going to do it against Bishop Carroll," Heights coach Gary Thomason said. "... Hard work is going to beat talent when talent doesn't work hard. But we didn't work hard all the time. We were late on the blocks, we're standing, we're guessing. When in doubt, we're going to stand and watch."
Carroll didn't play a perfect match, but the Eagles minimized their errors. They had 15 unforced errors in the first game, but a combined 19 in the second two games. Just as important, they didn't have long spans of poor play.
"We were determined not to do that," Balderas said. "We didn't want to get into our dark spots. That's what we call them."