On an early-season trip to Hawaii for tournament play last month, the Crossroads girls volleyball team wasn’t finding on-court success.
But it is now.
The Roadrunners appear to be rounding into form as they navigate their way through conference play, as evidenced by their 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20) win over rival Brentwood on the road Monday.
“The team came out with great energy and played with intensity,” third-year coach Aaron Wexler said. “Everyone was involved in this victory, on the court and on the bench.”
The triumph could be part of a promising year for Crossroads (8-7, 2-0 in the Gold Coast), which is unbeaten in league play heading into Thursday’s match at North Hollywood-Campbell Hall.
The Roadrunners are in position to improve on last year’s 6-6 conference record, which put them in fourth place in the Gold Coast standings behind Los Angeles-Windward, Calabasas-Viewpoint and Chatsworth-Sierra Canyon as part of a 10-7 campaign.
Wexler said Viewpoint and Sierra Canyon will again provide the toughest tests as his squad searches for its first league title since 2013, when it competed in the Delphic League.
“I expect that we’ll do well in league, but we’re going to have to give those teams all we got,” he said. “Our motto is, ‘Get 1-percent better today.’ We try to stick by that.”
Crossroads opened the regular season with a 3-1 (25-14, 25-22, 19-25, 25-19) win over Lancaster-Paraclete at home on Sept. 16, bouncing back from a third-set loss to close out the match in the fourth.
Junior outside hitter Harper Graves logged a team-high eight kills to lead the offense, while junior opposite Olympia Nagel-Caland and junior setter Grace Rose each added six. Rose also tallied 22 assists.
The Roadrunners also had key contributions from underclassmen, as freshman libero Lena Tatum served a team-high four aces and sophomore middle blocker Rosie Hudson recorded a team-high four blocks.
Wexler said he’s seen noticeable improvements from the girls since the start of the season in August.
“The main thing that I’m trying to do is bring a level of competitiveness that hasn’t historically been there,” he said. “But they’re ready for it. They’re responding and connecting as a team. It’s beautiful and cool to observe. I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Crossroads’ conference success continued at Brentwood, where it again recovered from a third-set hiccup to close out the match in the next frame.
Tatum’s defense, Rose’s playmaking and senior opposite Amanda Rosenberg’s serving skills helped the Roadrunners extend their winning streak against the Eagles. They haven’t lost a match in the rivalry series since 2012.
Wexler said the top-tier opponents at the Ann Kang Invitational in Honolulu to start the year showed his players what strong volleyball programs look like.
“Just being in the gym with those teams and seeing the energy they bring, their bench energy, their team cohesiveness, it was eye-opening for us,” he said. “They were able to pick up on a lot of those things. … That prepared us for our league.”