BURBANK — There was plenty of inexperience to go around when the Bellarmine-Jefferson High boys' volleyball team took on Village Christian Friday in a nonleague contest.
The Guards are young this season with just three returning players.
However, things are even younger for the Crusaders, who have just one player back from last season. On top of that, the Crusaders were missing a handful of players; one was competing for the school's basketball team in the state playoffs, another who is a transfer is still ineligible and another who had a school obligation.
It was also Village Christian's first match of the season.
Despite being depleted and completing with just two eligible players on its bench, Village Christian was able to sweep host Bell-Jeff, 25-18, 25-15, 26-16.
"A lot of our guys are still just learning the game," Bell-Jeff first-year Coach Brandon Johnson said. "So at this point, we're not able to just play free and not think about things. Instead we're thinking about what we should be doing and where we should be on the court.
"Those kinds of things take time and every match is going to give us the experience we need to get better as a team."
The Guards (1-4) were able to gain some experience last week playing in the Providence Tournament. In that event, Johnson said his team did well in the passing department. However, Bell-Jeff struggled with its passing against Village Christian.
"That was kind of a problem for us today," he said. "I actually thought that passing was going to be one of our strengths this year and it was in last weekend's tournament when we passed pretty well. And that's what broke down for us today.
"We need to put in the hard work to beat some of these other teams. We just have to get better at giving consistent hard work, then our results will get better."
The Guards received nine kills and eight digs from Chris Coquia, six kills and eight digs from Eric Davidians and 15 assists, eight digs and four aces from Colbert Orta.
Bell-Jeff started the match strongly, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first game. But the Crusaders were able to come right back, embarking on a 7-0 run to take an 8-4 advantage. The Guards had no answer for Village Christian's Kane Centeno, who tallied six of his match-high 12 kills in the first game.
The Crusaders kept up the pressure, increasing their lead to 18-9 and cruising the rest of the way in the opener.
The Guards had another early lead in the second game, but again couldn't hold off Village Christian. Bell-Jeff could muster just three kills in the second frame.
In the third game, the Guards were up, 7-5. But Bell-Jeff then started to faulter and Village Christian went on an 8-0 run to give it a 13-7 lead and an advantage it would not relinquish.