LA CAÑADA — As the Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High boys’ volleyball team readjusted itself in a Mission League contest against host St. Francis, the Golden Knights tried to find their offensive rhythm.
But as the match wore on, the Golden Knights were unable to make enough adjustments, and Notre Dame capitalized on unforced errors to earn a 25-19, 25-22, 25-23 sweep at St. Francis on Thursday.
St. Francis (7-5, 0-2 in league) dropped its second league match after a loss in straight sets to Loyola in the league opener Tuesday.
“I don’t think we came out slow, I just think that Notre Dame dictated the pace of that match almost all night,” St. Francis coach Mark Frazee said. “Even when it was close, they were doing their stuff and our block was a little poor. We gave them too many angles to hit the ball at and that hurt.”
Golden Knights Oliver Taylor led St. Francis with six kills, followed by five kills each from Joey Thompson and Gus Maltzan.
Notre Dame (17-7-1, 2-1) received 15 kills from Dylan Garcia.
The Knights gave St. Francis 10 points on unforced errors in the first set, but still got to within one point of Notre Dame’s lead twice.
Notre Dame established its biggest lead of the first set, 21-15, before a St. Francis error later gave Notre Dame the victory.
“There were a lot of points scored, we just didn’t get them when we needed them,” Frazee said. “They were good defensively. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They were a stronger team than I thought they were and they made very few mistakes, other than some service errors.”
The Golden Knights tied it early at 5 in the second set, but the visitors outscored the hosts, 7-1, to set up a 12-6 Notre Dame lead. St. Francis struck nine kills in the set to cut the Notre Dame lead to one on six occasions, but eventually errors gave the the Knights a two-set advantage.
The Golden Knights forced three ties in the third set, and a pair of kills from Taylor and one from Thompson tied it at 19.
With a 24-20 lead, Garcia’s 14th kill set up match-point for Notre Dame before St. Francis crept back into the match to cut the lead to one.
“We’re starting to believe in ourselves a little bit,” Notre Dame coach Jim Hall said. “We were off to a really rough start, probably lost four-of-five matches we shouldn’t have and they weren’t close. They’re kind of gaining a little momentum.
“The game’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical, and we’re doing a better job in the mental game as we go.”