By Jeremy Balan
It would be hard to imagine a more foreboding start to the Bay Counties League West season for Convent of the Sacred Heart High School’s girls volleyball team.
The Cubs fell behind 16-0 in the first game of their league opener on the road against Lick-Wilmerding and trailed in every game, but came back to win the match 19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-16 on Tuesday.
Convent didn’t win the first game, but didn’t succumb, and captured the momentum back from the Tigers. The Cubs rallied back from a 20-3 deficit in the first game and ended the opening frame on a 16-5 run.
“It was horrible. I’ve never seen a side of them like that,” first-year Convent head coach Laura O’Reilly said of the Cubs’ start. “I couldn’t tell you what the issue was, but they stuck through it. Once they saw that they could come back, they had the momentum the rest of the match.”
But Convent continued to fall behind early to the Tigers. In the second game, the Lick lead was 7-3, in the third it was 7-0 and 10-5, and in the fourth it was 9-5.
“It came down to leadership,” O’Reilly said. “It was Bianca [Quintanilla-Whye] and our seniors taking control. We just got our act together.”
Quintanilla-Whye and sophomore Alex Wood led the Cubs with six kills apiece, but with neither offense dictating play, the match ultimately came down to which team made the fewest mistakes.
After their flawless start, the Tigers committed a staggering 51 unforced errors that resulted in Convent points.
“The pressure started to come back and that’s what we struggled to deal with,” said Lick head coach Gary Hodge. “Our players are still defining their roles and we’re still trying to figure out who will be our leader to pull ourselves out of a situation like that.”
If there was a silver lining for the Tigers, it would be a glimpse at what they are capable of. At times, Lick looked dominant and surged in the first game behind six aces from senior libero Stacey Cheong, who served 15 of the points in the opening 16-0 run. Lick junior outside hitter Rebecca Green also finished with a match-high 10 kills, while Annie Wilson and Jade Sparks added seven kills apiece.
“Tomorrow I’m going to have a very attentive group in practice, but there is plenty of good to be taken away from this,” Hodge said. “The leaders that need to lead are starting to work their way into those roles, but it’s more than just being vocal. You have to walk the walk.”