by Christopher Mohr
October 14, 2010 (San Diego) - The Patrick Henry High School Patriots' girls volleyball team continued their impressive season with a three game sweep in their Eastern League match Tuesday night (10/12) against the Our Lady of Peace Pilots (Normal Heights). They won by scores of 25-16, 25-18 and 25-20 before a packed crowd at their home gym in San Carlos.
Each of the match's three games followed a similar pattern: both teams essentially traded points until the score was tied 15-15, then the Patriots would break away and pull out the win. The only difference was that the final score was closer with each subsequent game.
Patrick Henry coach Justin Conde, in his second year at the school, discussed the Patriots performance, especially why each of the three matches reached a 15-15 score, "We tend to play to our competition a lot, so it takes some points until we're ready to start playing in the system. We get out of the system, but once we get in the system, we find our groove, develop a good lead and finish matches."
Lauren Hays, a senior at Patrick Henry, has played well enough this season to draw the attention of college recruiters, but has not made any commitments to any school yet. She led the way for the Patriots with 11 kills and 13 assists. As far as she was concerned, the reason for the Patriots' win was pretty simple, "We play well together as a team."
Major contributions for the Patriots also came from Nicole Kessler (15 digs), Kelsey Johnson (12 digs) and Kendra Mendicino.
An unusual aspect of the game was the home team's uniform. Patrick Henry's school colors are green and gold, but the Patriots volleyball team wore pink uniform tops as part of a campaign to increase breast cancer awareness. Dig Pink T-shirts were on sale at the gym to raise money for the Side Out Foundation, which provides cancer research funding. Volleyball teams from club to collegiate levels across the U.S. will sell shirts to raise money for the foundation through the month of October.
With the win, Patrick Henry improves to 22-3 overall, 6-0 in Eastern league play. The Patriots will make a short trip north to Tierrasanta to face their next opponent, the Serra High School Conquistadors (3-8, 1-3) in another Eastern League match on Thursday, October 14.
This year's Patriots' team seems headed for a similar finish to last year's team, which finished with a 27-2 record. Coach Conde analyzed the program's progress under his leadership:
"We had some high expectations coming out of last season because we have six starters returning from last year's team, so we have that group coming back, so we have high expectations already. Now with this large of a team, we have 18 girls, and seven of them seniors, we are developing our younger players at a much faster pace. I would say in the long run we are actually ahead of schedule because our younger players are getting some playing time."
OLP drops to 4-4 overall, 3-1 in Eastern league play. Their next opponent will also be the Serra Conquistadors, but the match will not take place until Thursday, October 21.