SPRING HILL — Bishop McLaughlin coach Doug Chinchar has a succinct description of his team this season.
“We’re loaded,” he said.
That talent was on display in Tuesday night’s season opener against Tampa Catholic. The Hurricanes, who fell one match short of a state championship and perfect season last year, defeated the Crusaders 25-8, 25-15, 25-13. They were led by junior Audrey Koenig, a Florida State commit, with 20 kills.
Maddie Snider (eight kills) and Ali Waldon (seven kills) also contributed to a powerful front line. In fact, with Ezzie Thompson in the lineup, the Hurricanes start three top-notch freshmen at the net. Most of Bishop McLaughlin’s starters are underclassmen, which bodes well for the present and future.
The first three points of Tuesday’s match was an indication of the Hurricanes’ versatility. The match started with a kill from Waldon. That was followed by a kill by Snider, then another from Koenig. Bishop McLaughlin jumped out to an 8-3 lead and was up 15-7 midway through the first set.
Then came a seven-point run that included two straight kills by Snider and two straight aces by Terah Nejman. The set fittingly ended with a kill by Koenig.
The second set started much the same way the first did. The Hurricanes led 9-3 and jumped out to a 20-10 lead. The Crusaders cut it to 20-13 thanks to a kill by Emma Hennessee and a tip by Kendall Herrera. But the Hurricanes scored the final three points to take a 2-0 lead.
Tampa Catholic was much more competitive in the third set. The Crusaders only trailed 7-5 early on. Then came a 6-0 run later in the set that made the score 18-9. The Hurricanes didn’t let up and ended the set, and match, on a 6-1 run.
“It’s a good start against a pretty good team,” Chinchar said. "We just out-powered them all over the place. We’re a better ball-control team, better blocking, better passing, better serving, better hitting.
“It’s going to be a fun little trip, but we do have to get better. I don’t think they should have scored as many points as they scored. They should have been in the six to nine range.”
Bishop McLaughlin is ranked 86th nationally by Prepvolleyball.com.