Rock Bridge's win Monday against Helias was typicial in many ways, except one.
The defending state champion Bruins sweep the match 9-0, but it was the fifth shutout for them this season. It was special for coach Ben Loeb, though, who earned his 399th victory in Columbia with the win. Loeb goes for his 400th win today at Jefferson City.
Loeb started coaching in Columbia at Hickman in 1989 where he went 120-41. He transferred to Rock Bridge in 1994 where his record is 279-52.
Monday's win came with some help from four junior varsity players, including three freshman. This is the second time this season the Bruins' (8-1) have shuffled junior varsity players into the lineup.
Kara Hickey, the Bruins No. 1 player, didn't compete against the Crusaders (1-5).
The Bruins' only senior, Stephanie Smarr played at the No. 1 spot and defeated Mandy Rohrbach 6-1, 6-0.
Rachel Mends moved up from junior varsity to play at the No. 6 spot. She said that she gained more confidence and experience during her second varsity match.
"Before every serve I just kept telling myself I had the game," Mends said. "I think there was more pressure the first time."
Loeb said he is trying to give his younger players the chance to gain experience tougher competition.
"We are very young in our second six (players) but I wanted to give them some varsity play this year," Loeb said. "We are going to count on several of these girls in the coming years."
He paired sophomore varsity players Karla Kruse and Ashley Miles in No. 1 doubles.
Kruse and Miles defeated Christine Wilson and Michelle Stieferman 6-1, 6-0.
"Karla and Ashley are going to be seniors in two years," Loeb said. "So what you are looking at is a projection to 2005. The doubles lineup today was really about projecting and the girls' getting some experience."
The Bruins Kruse, Mends, and Sarah Seltsam, didn't lose a game in singles play.
Freshmen Erica Sher and Sarah Ginsburg defeated Morgan DeLong and Andrea West 6-3, 4-6, 10-0, at No. 3 doubles, the only match played to three sets.
The Bruins travel to play some tough teams in the next two weeks.