Tates Creek's volleyball team not only has the will to win, it has the wherewithal to sweep a top-notch opponent. The host Commodores, No. 18 in the state, beat No. 9 Paul Laurence Dunbar 25-23, 25-20, 25-22 Tuesday night.
Tates Creek finished each set strong and steady, a knack that has delighted Coach Sara Chaffin all season.
"That's kind of our theme right now," Chaffin said. "We've been down countless times already this season but have come back and won.
"I told the girls what I like the most is they have the will to win. They never lay down, give up and say they're beat."
Tates Creek outscored Dunbar 5-1 to close the first set, and 4-1 to take the third.
"We're definitely a comeback team," said Kendall Beerman, the Commodores' 6-foot-2 junior outside hitter.
"We definitely fight to the very end and that's helped us come back a lot this season.
"I'm really proud of our team for that."
Tates Creek has high expectations after going 30-8 and reaching the 11th Region finals last fall. It lost an epic five-set title match to Henry Clay.
The Commodores have picked up where they left off by winning 13 of their first 15 matches this season.
Beerman, who has committed to Indiana University, is one of the best finishers in the state. She had 20 kills in the last two sets against Dunbar. Beerman credited setters Taylor Reihing and Micaela Magsig for "putting it right on the money. I couldn't be happier about that."
Senior Haley Summers is another veteran. Sophomore Julia Loveday made crucial plays against Dunbar, and freshman Doris Carter was a major factor, too.
Freshman libero Macy Reihing, Taylor's sister who saw action as an eighth-grader, thinks the team has improved its communication this season.
"Our talking's better, and we're trusting each other more on the court. knowing that another person is going to get a ball," Macy said.
Chaffin didn't expect Tates Creek to sweep Dunbar, which was coming off a come-from-behind five-set win over No. 8 Henry Clay last week.
But Chaffin did expect her Commodores to play well.
"We were very prepared and very focused," she said. "We served aggressively, and were running a quick offense. We're very successful when we do those two things."
Dunbar Coach Jenni Morgan said "unforced errors" were her team's undoing.
The Bulldogs showed flashes of getting on a roll behind Olivia Canales, Leah Edmond, Jenna Mulert and Rachel Brown.
"The girls tried really hard, but defensively and ball control, we couldn't get in our rhythm," Morgan said.
"This wasn't our 'A' game, but Tates Creek played a great game."