Coach Mark McCloskey can't turn around without seeing his own angry face.
His name or his mug is on nearly every T-shirt in a crowded Lexington Catholic student section.
The new volleyball coach has become quite the rock star among the Knights' student body. The seniors have dubbed themselves "McCloskey's McFlurrys" and wear shirts that proclaim it.
"It's funny, but I told them, 'I don't care what you wear as long as you show up,' " McCloskey said. "We're glad to have them here."
The new coach helped the Knights win 10 of their first 11 games this season.
They hit a skid recently, losing three straight, but righted themselves Thursday night with a two-set win over host Lexington Christian 25-23, 25-17 in front of large, rowdy crowd.
The students are excited about the new coach, and so are his Catholic players.
"He's an amazing coach," Kristen Larsen said. "He's made us all a lot better."
Junior Tyler Deaton agreed.
"Once we got him, we knew it was going to change our program tremendously," she said.
If McCloskey is the program changer, Deaton and Larsen were the game changers Thursday night, leading the Knights with eight kills apiece. Larsen also had two service aces.
Things looked bad for McCloskey's McFlurrys early on when Lexington Christian, behind its own loud crowd, rolled out to an 8-4 lead in the first game.
But any early lead came courtesy of Catholic. Eleven of the Eagles' first 12 points were off of Knights mistakes.
LCA then watched a 17-13 lead turn to an 18-17 deficit after Catholic scored five straight, including two kills from Deaton. The slow start has been a story of the season for Catholic, but its coach was pleased.
"If we take care of things on our side of the net, we have a chance to compete, and it doesn't matter who we're playing," McCloskey said.
Once Catholic got its momentum, the Eagles couldn't halt it. In the second game, the Knights grabbed a 6-1 and then a 10-2 lead.
"Once we started passing and getting better hits, we knew things would change," Deaton said. "In the second game, once we started off strong, we knew it was ours."
The Knights' lead ballooned to 11 points on a Julie Babbage ace, but Christian used an 8-3 run (five points thanks to Catholic miscues) to pull within six points on three occasions. But Catholic never let Christian get in striking distance, pulling out the 25-17 win. Larsen had five kills in the Knights' second game.
In two games, Katie Gerring had four service aces. Kelli Lynch added five kills and Casey Cleary three for the Knights. Christian was led by Blair Barnhart, who despite being hobbled by a recent ankle injury, managed four kills, two blocks and an ace.
At Lexington Christian
Lexington Catholic def. Lexington Christian 25-23, 25-17.
Records—Lexington Catholic 11-4, Lexington Christian 4-6.