SUN VALLEY — Even though his team had just lost the third game, and the opportunity to pull off a sweep on Wednesday evening, St. Francis High volleyball Coach Mark Frazee still felt like his team had all the momentum going into the fourth.
"We closed the gap the whole way, we had momentum, we were doing things right," said Frazee, whose team trailed host Village Christian by six points late in the third game and lost by just two points. "We cleaned up our problems early in game three, it's just with sideout scoring … we can only get so close and that's it."
The way the Golden Knights came out to start the fourth game of their 25-17, 25-22, 23-25, 25-12 nonleague victory, it appeared Frazee's claim was valid, as St. Francis (6-5) opened the fourth game on an 11-2 run to put a swift end to the Crusaders' attempt to extend the match.
"It was too late to come back [and win the third game], but we used that momentum to come back and win the fourth game," said St. Francis outside hitter Michael Bacall, who tied for the team lead in kills with Wesley Coffey with 19. "We knew we had it."
Bacall notched an ace to give St. Francis a 4-1 lead early in the fourth game and, after Village Christian (8-2) earned a sideout, the Golden Knights countered with one of their own and were off and running behind a six-point service run from Tyler Korzun, who also finished with nine kills.
St. Francis was the aggressor over the latter third of the third game, using an 8-4 run to close to within two points at 22-20, and then holding off Village Christian at game-point for three straight points.
"It was our mistakes," Frazee said of the lapse early in the third game that saw the Golden Knights fall into an 11-6 hole that widened to 19-13. "They didn't do anything different, they just kept coming at us the same way they did [in the first two games]. It was missed serves, missed hits, our setting was off a little bit."
In the long run, the third-game loss didn't faze St. Francis, which got six kills from Bacall and four from Coffey to win the first game easily.
"In the first two games, we were getting a lot of one-on-one looks on the outside because they were going with our middles," said Frazee, who got 12 kills from Charles McCarthy and 53 assists from Chris Thompson.
St. Francis didn't have it as easy in the second game, however, as it was forced to rally for a win.
Village Christian led, 16-12, in the second game off an ace from Cody Burns, but a kill by Korzun set the wheels in motion for a 6-3 run that evened the game at 19.
The Crusaders then went up, 21-20, but three kills by Bacall over the next four points, followed by an ace from Riley Donaldson (30 digs), gave the Golden Knights the lead for good.
"That game, we pretty much clicked on all cylinders, good defense, good blocking," Bacall said. "With that game we just buckled down and played hard all the way through."