NEW PORT RICHEY — The comeback was over, the cheers were still echoing in the gym, and River Ridge volleyball coach Nicole Rossman wasn't sure what to say about her Knights' improbable comeback.
"The girls wanted it," Rossman said.
And they got it, staying perfect Tuesday night with a thrilling five-game win over Mitchell (15-25, 14-25, 25-18, 25-23, 15-9) at home.
The Knights (5-0) struggled early, missing on two of their first three serves and falling behind 10-2 in the first game.
Strong serves and sets from Catherine Peshek helped Mitchell (4-2) rattle off the first 11 points of the second game.
The Mustangs looked poised to knock off one of the North Suncoast's top teams in front of a pair of loud student sections.
"Once we got through those jitters and started playing our game, we started playing better," Rossman said.
River Ridge finally got its first lead in a game early in the third with an ace from Cristina Kolodziej, and her vicious kill gave the Knights the game.
But Mitchell jumped to another quick start in the fourth. Behind a missed serve and a pair of spikes into the net, River Ridge fell behind 7-1 before coming back.
An ace from Vashoula Kostogiannes tied it at 10, and Corinne Pieterse's block at the net dropped to the floor to force a fifth game.
"That honestly was all the girls, just wanting it," Rossman said. "The pure will of wanting it."
River Ridge pulled away in the final game with Pieterse serving, breaking through with five points in a row to open up a 9-3 lead.
The Knights capitalized on Mustangs mistakes late to remain perfect.
Reach Times staff writer Matt Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.