By Jeremy Balan
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School dominated in every aspect of its match against Drew School to win its first Bay Counties League West match of the season 25-9, 25-13, 25-20 on Tuesday at Booker T. Washington Community Center.
The Cubs (6-3, 1-1) were led by juniors Erika Jesse and Nini Maine, who were imposing presences at the net, most notably in the first game, where Jesse had eight kills and Maine had four.
“They work really well together,” said Convent head coach David Moreno. “Because they’re in the front row on two rotations, they’re able to play off each other. When we’re able to establish [Maine] in the middle, it opens up a lot of opportunities for [Jesse] on the outside. That’s what you saw today.”
Convent’s win was impressive, but it came with a slight asterisk. The Dragons (5-3, 0-1) were without standout senior Emily Townsend, who was on a trip to Boston to visit colleges. Townsend is Drew’s captain, emotional leader and main offensive threat.
“Emily is a force on the court and she brings confidence to the other five players on the court, whoever she plays with,” said Drew head coach Katie Horne. “Everybody knows what part of the court she’s going to cover and they rely on her as an outlet if we’re strapped. Without her, the younger players were trying to figure out who that was going to be.”
Midway through the second game, Jesse and Maine’s playing time was limited by Moreno, and nine different Cubs players recorded kills in the match.
“Those are some of our younger players on the team,” Moreno said. “Any time we can get them on the court against good competition is going to make them better, and they did well today with the opportunities they got.”
Growth was also on the mind of Horne, who only started one senior in the match. After trailing 21-10 in the third game, the Dragons made a late run to cut the deficit to 24-20 behind the stellar play of sophomore libero Victoria Verdan.
“We have a big game on Friday [against San Domenico] and we’ll be prepping for that match with the momentum we had at the end of the match,” Horne said.