COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge was leading the second set 22-14 when the student section started heating up.
"Three more points! Three more points!" the students said, shouting and standing on the bleachers. The crowd was feeling it. With the first set already won 25-14, Rock Bridge was ready to keep its undefeated streak going.
"You could feel the tension here in the gym," said Robin Sherman, Rock Bridge's volleyball coach.
Three points later, junior outside hitter Sophie Cunningham nailed the ball over the net, causing it to bounce off a Hermann player and sail past the back line. Rock Bridge sealed the 25-14, 25-15 victory.
Rock Bridge extended its undefeated streak to 9-0, but Sherman prefers not to think of it that way.
"I kind of don't think in those terms," Sherman said. "This game was close the whole way, although the score didn't necessarily reflect that at the end. None of them (the players) have really said much, that I'm aware of, about us being undefeated."
Sherman prefers the team to set small, personal goals in order to stay motivated rather than looking at the big picture at once.
Instead of focusing on reaching 25 points, the goal might be to beat the opposing team to six points. Once that goal is reached, the next might be to get to 15 before the opposition gets to 12. The idea is to keep these goals going throughout the game.
"They're used to trying to do those kinds of things," Sherman said. "I think that helps keep them focused and gives them smaller things to think about."
This system has helped Rock Bridge succeed so far this season. The team won five matches in one day over the weekend in a tournament at Rockwood Summit High School.
The Bruins' next match is 5 p.m. Thursday at Notre Dame de Sion School in Kansas City. Saturday will be the team's next tournament test at Lee's Summit North High School.
As the team aims for win No. 10, Sherman believes the team will always have things to improve.
"Passing is one of those things they always have to work on," Sherman said. "We need to shore up some things with our blocking as well, but I thought we did a nice job of keeping the ball, attacking-wise, in the court tonight."