The first two weeks of the Rock Bridge volleyball season produced one victory. Saturday, the team posted three.
The Bruins won the Rock Bridge Tournament, defeating the Osage Indians in the championship match 25-17, 25-18. The Bruins went 3-1 in the tournament, evening their record at 4-4.
Early in the season, the team struggled with communication on the court and missed assignments, causing balls to drop. Coach Beth Newton said her team is gradually committing fewer mental errors.
“I see lots of communication between girls that weren’t talking before,” she said. “There’s fewer of those moments where they are wondering whose ball it is.”
Senior Marissa Jeffrey said the improvement in communication has come from playing together.
“We have become more comfortable out there,” she said. “We have learned each other’s tendencies.”
Junior Amanda Hansen said the Bruins, who have won the tournament five years in a row, felt motivated to keep the Bruins streak of tournament titles alive.
“. . . We weren’t going let it end,” Hansen said.
Newton said the tournament victory was great for the team’s confidence and showed it will be able to compete with the tougher teams in preparation for districts.
“The last match with Osage, everybody stepped up,” Newton said. “We were in control the whole time. That’s what we want, to be able to stay on top and not give up the momentum like we have in the past.”
The tournament featured the Bruins, Indians, the Warrenton Warriors and the Tipton Cardinals.
In the first match of the tournament, the Bruins defeated Tipton in two games 25-15, 25-19.
“Getting a couple wins early got the girls a lot more confident,” Newton said.
In their second match, their first against Osage, the Bruins’ confidence took a hit when Osage beat the Bruins in the decisive third game to earn a 25-22, 10-25, 15-13 victory.
“We lost that one match and it showed we can’t be that cocky,” senior Corey Dunne said.
After defeating Warrenton 25-23, 25-14 in their third preliminary match, the Bruins met Osage again in the championship.
Newton said Dunne has made significant improvement.
“Corey stepped it up today,” Newton said. “This is probably her best day. She’s starting to do the things we expect.”
Dunne attributed her success today to a lack of being intimidated. Dunne, 5 foot 10, said she usually gets nervous about tall blockers across the net, but didn’t have such apprehensions today.
“I think during the tournament I was able to make those hits I normally wouldn’t,” she said. “It will help me with the tough teams that have big blockers in the future like when we play our rematch against Helias.”
Newton said she pressured the team to win the tournament and she was excited to see her players respond well to it.
“I know down the stretch there will be constant pressure,” she said. “You find out who has got a strong will. They proved today they are strong.”