KERNERSVILLE — With several of its top players out, Bishop McGuinness could’ve been in trouble. Instead, it fought its way through to the second round.

The third-seeded Villains — playing a lineup of almost all sophomores — settled in after a tight opening set and rolled past 14th-seeded Huntersville Christ the King 25-22, 25-14, 25-15 on Tuesday at Bishop in the opening round of the NCHSAA 1A West volleyball playoffs.

“I didn’t (address it beforehand). I didn’t want to put too much pressure on them — it was already a big game for us,” Bishop coach Shawn Jacobsen said with a laugh. “I just wanted them to do their thing.

“Before the game, I just talked with them about being confident and that they’re certainly capable of doing it. It’s just getting into that mental mindset of: Yes, we can and, yes, we will.”

Chrisbel Alcantara had 10 kills, 10 aces and 11 digs to lead the Villains (13-1), who won the Northwest Conference — their first conference championship since 2007. Rachael Bray added five kills and eight digs, while Leila Brown had two kills and three blocks.

Jeanna Hauk contributed 17 assists and seven digs, and Grace Strader had 17 digs and two aces as Bishop overcame being down four players — including seniors Jordyn Johnson, Olivia Martin and Madeline Seeber, who are a significant part of what the team normally does.

“We’re really excited,” said Alcantara, a sophomore outside hitter/right side hitter. “We’re missing three of our seniors, and at first I was really scared — like, ‘Oh, my God, what are we going to do?’

“But we have so much fun on this team. So, I was like, ‘Let’s just be ourselves and have fun.’ And, you know, we won. So, I couldn’t be more excited about that. … It’s a big deal for us. We’re really proving who we are.”

After each team built small leads, the score remained close late into the first set — with the Crusaders (9-4) pulling even at 21-21. But the Villains won four of the final five points — getting a block, a pair of kills and a service error — to take the early advantage.

In the second set, Bishop quickly led 11-3, extended its lead to 10 midway through the set and stretched it to 11 during the final points. Christ the King, however, rallied in the third set — leading by as many as five points and holding a 15-11 advantage into the latter stages.

But the Villains — keyed by a string of strong serves by Alcantara — won 14 straight points to surge past the Crusaders, who finished third in the Southern Piedmont Conference and had stretches in Tuesday’s match when they held the momentum, and completed the sweep.

“We really kept our energy up,” Alcantara said. “That was our main thing. Our captain, Jordyn Johnson, always says that — to keep our energy up. And we just did that in the second set. We kind of let down in the third set, but we kept fighting — keeping our energy up, motivating each other.”

With a boost of confidence following its win, Bishop — which expects to have most, if not all, of its missing players back for the second round — will host either sixth-seeded Blue Ridge Early College (10-0) or 11th-seeded Uwharrie Charter (9-1) in the second round scheduled for Thursday.

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