A year older and wiser, the St. Louis Saints volleyball team showed they're also tougher, keeping their poise on the road in a five-set season-opening win over Barbe.
The Saints won 19-25, 25-20, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12.
Saints head coach Elizabeth Thompson said the match was a gut-check, with her team showing newfound fortitude.
"I don't like looking back or referencing past teams, but last year in a match like this we would have rolled over and died," she said. "We would not have fought as hard as we did tonight. I'm proud of them for that. We stayed calm in the fifth set. There were some really long and frantic rallies, but we kept our composure."
On one such play, Madison Brinkman dove to make a dig then scrambled up in time to send the ball back over the net. St. Louis won the point on a kill two shots later.
"That is the game of volleyball," Thompson said. "We play some teams that are super scrappy and our worst nightmare. If we can be the scrappy team and make those hustle plays, that is all a coach can ask for."
Julie Savoy led the Saints with 13 kills and two blocks. Leah Richery added nine kills.
Barbe head coach Katie Franks said her team was uneven throughout the match.
"We cut down our errors and earned a lot of our points (in the fourth set)," she said. "We fought back and played hard. I'm proud of how they played. We just need to be more consistent. We passed the ball better tonight. We had a lot of kills, but also a lot of hitting errors. Same with serving — lots of aces but also lots of errors. If we can limit the errors we will be OK."
Grayce Guidry led Barbe with 29 kills and four aces. Sadie Guillory had 38 assists.