Warrior coach Keri Pirtle, who missed her team’s opener because of a family emergency, sounded a bit surprised with the victory.
“This was my first game to watch us play so I’m pleasantly surprised,” she said. “I thought we did well.”
They did more than well, especially in the first two games.
Gateway went up 9-3 in Game 1 on a big serving run by Shreea Mistry, then stretched the lead to 14-4 on the serving of Jordan Menagh.
Game 2 was closer early until Menagh made it 9-5 with four serves, Brianna DIaz added three to make it 15-8, and Gateway rolled to the win.
Game 3 was much tighter, with the Tigers battling every step of the way.
Capitan took a 3-2 lead then the Warriors went up 5-3 and after that it was back and forth to the final serve.
Tiger Jayda Silva had the best serving performance of the night, putting Capitan up 11-8 and later 23-22. Both sides had serving errors late, bouncing the lead back and forth with Katie Schults getting the final two points for Gateway.
While Pirtles also sounded surprised with the closeness of Game 3 – “I’m really kind of surprised that the third game went as close as it did,” she said. “They got on a little bit of a run. Had a few more kills in the third game than they did in the other two games” – Capitan coach Rebecca Gonzales wasn’t, noting she’s not using the graduates as an excuse.
“We’re not going to look at it as a downfall or something negative,” she said. “We’re going to just keep working our tails off and keep improving. It’s more like a rebuilding year, if you like.”
The Warriors were also missing a senior Thursday – Kate Hammonds was on a college visit – so Pirtle had to make some lineup changes.
“I think Jordan (Menagh) stepped in and played a different position and did really well to fill in her shoes for that,” the coach said.
She said Menaugh served and hit well, picking up seven kills, while Shreea Mistry had six kills and Brianna Diaz “passed really, really well for us today, and that’s the reason we could run so good of an offense. So I was real impressed with Brianna’s passing.”
Gonzales was also happy with how her team handled its first game.
“We needed to make a few changes with that rotation and everything,” she said. “I think first-game jitters was a factor in there as well. Playing with new teammates and whatnot. There’s a lot of them who are wearing a lot of different hats. Some of them are in the front row and they’re setting and the next thing you know they’re hitting. They’re playing different position and they’re willing to just do whatever they can, for the team, as well as what us coaches ask of them. So they’re doing a great job of the whole transition.”