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Volleyball: Gritty Rhoads lifts Bloomingdale to key district win

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Fri. September 28, 2012 | Joel Anderson

LITHIA — Bloomingdale had taken a one-point lead midway through the first set when Karissa Rhoads came down awkwardly on her left ankle.

The Bulls’ sophomore outside hitter grimaced and then limped off to the bench, seemingly taking their chance of winning their first district game of the season with her.

But Rhoads recovered and Bloomingdale eventually did too, snapping their five-match losing streak with an 18-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-22 victory over rival Newsome on Thursday night.

“There’s no question (Rhoads) is a huge part of my team,” Bloomingdale coach Margeaux Sinibaldi said. “When she went down, it frazzled them a bit. But it’s good because it’s adversity.”

The Bulls (10-8) had known plenty of adversity coming into their match with Newsome (5-2). Bloomingdale had lost all five of its matches in the Berkeley Premier tournament last weekend, dropping 10 of 11 sets.

Sinibaldi hoped the experience and the competition, which included some of the nation’s top programs, would toughen up her team.

“You don’t want to put your team in a position where they feel defeated,” she said. “But we wanted to do everything we could to prepare for district.”

In their first set Thursday, the Bulls seemed poised to continue their losing ways when Rhoads hobbled off the court with the score tied at 14.

Newsome then ran off eight consecutive points, punctuated by Khiani Kelly’s ace to give the Wolves a 22-15 lead. The Wolves went on to win the set 25-18.

The raucous home crowd roared at the shift in momentum, and Rhoads was sitting on the bench with an ice pack on her left ankle.

“I really felt like we were well matched against them,” Newsome coach Kate Correa said. “But when things turned, we didn’t have that one go-to player.”

Bloomingdale did: Rhoads returned in the second set and the Bulls pulled away.

Rhoads, who ranks fifth in kills in Hillsborough, broke a 23-23 tie with a kill and followed with another to give the Bulls a 25-24 lead. Bloomingdale scored the set-winning point on the next play.

Rhoads finished with a game-leading 20 kills. Madison Whiting led Newsome with 11 kills and Kelly had four kills and four blocks.

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