WHEELING - Inconsistent play, and possibly nerves, were at the forefront at the beginning of Wednesday's season-opening volleyball match between West Virginia Class A rivals Bishop Donahue and Wheeling Central.
However, when push came to shove and it was time to get down to business, it was Coach Erica Galluzzo's Bishops that managed to get their footing, pull it together and take advantage of numerous Maroon Knights mistakes to record a 25-12, 25-11, 25-20 victory at the Knights' East Wheeling gym.
"It's a great start getting that first victory," Galluzzo said with a smile. "And we are really looking forward to a very good season."
Both teams had a little trouble returning serves in the first set, however when all was said and done, it was the Bishops that managed to get things done with a 25-12 victory to take control.
The big moment came with Donahue leading 9-7 following a Madison Wiedebusch kill. From there Wiedebusch held serve for nine points as the Maroon Knights continually found ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
Sam Zimla, who finished with 14 points in the match, picked up nine of those to begin the second game as the Bishops raced out to a huge lead. Central chipped away at the lead, cutting it down to six at one point at 13-7, but the Knights got no closer as Bishop Donahue pulled to within one game of the victory.
Central, which led early in Game 1 and never in Game 2, had a trio of one-point advantages early in the final game, but with the Maroon Knights consistently failing to get the ball over the net it was only a matter of time before the Bishops pulled away.
Trailing by nine points late, Coach Bruce Denniston's team tried to rally, coming to within five on three occasions at the end, but could not get it done.
"We played to their mistakes and took advantage of the holes that we were able to find," Galluzzo added. "I felt that our hitters were pretty strong, but we also missed some opportunities on serves."
For Denniston it was not difficult to figure out where things went wrong.
"You can't hit the ball into the net when you are serving," Denniston said. "You lose the point and the service. That is something that we work on a lot, but it wasn't there.
"I had a very good setter last year in my daughter (Delaney), who is now playing at Waynesburg, but I have some girls now that don't have that kind of experience. The setter has to run the show and we are very tentative. Hopefully that is something that comes around.
"We also need to develop some confidence in our passing. In order to have a good set you have to have good passers so the setter can get to the ball. The one good thing I will say is that we played better in the third game, and I believe we will get better overall.
"The biggest things we need to focus on are getting the ball over the net on serves, learning where we are at on the court and focusing on not just standing around and watching each other and the ball."
While the Bishops did an outstanding job distributing the ball and playing well as a team, it all begins with Tess Fallova, who finished with 61 sets in the match. Kacie Jo Brown added 18 points, eight aces and four kills while Zimla had four aces and a kill to go along with her 11 points.