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The Crusaders stay undefeated with a straight set home win over the crosstown Apollos.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Tess Masingale (16) and Ceanna O'Loughlin (11) block Sunset sophomore outside hitter Thanvi Chilukuri (22) during the two teams' match Thursday, Sept. 16, at Jesuit High School.Off and running – well, setting, blocking and spiking.

The Jesuit volleyball team fought for a straight set victory over Metro League rival Sunset last Thursday night, defeating the Apollos 25-8, 25-18, 25-11, in front of a nice home crowd Sept. 16, at Jesuit High School.

Crusaders head coach Teresa Zimmerlee said she was relatively happy with her team's performance, but at the same time understands that with a young team it's always going to be a work in progress.

"There's still a few things we're working on, some of which are some of the more difficult things to do as a volleyball player," the coach said, "But I think we're getting better with every set we play."

One of those players continuing to get better is senior Tess Masingale, who at 6-foot-3 creates problems for even the best of teams. Zimmerlee acknowledged that "problem," saying that she's happy to have her on her side opposed to the opponent's side of the net.

"She's really hard to stop," she said with a smile. "When we get her the ball she has great reach and can send it back pretty aggressively. She's very difficult to defend."

Jesuit libero Maisie Alexander reiterated her coach's stance on Masingale, calling her the team's "saving grace." Masingale however was more interested in talking about her team opposed to herself and her contribution, and was mostly pleased with the team's overall performance.

"I think things started out a little bumpy, and I think it was because we were a little nervous," Masingale said. "But in the third set we definitely ramped it up and put it together and worked much better as a team."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Sunset's Sara Davies attacks the net against Jesuit senior Tess Masingale. The Crusaders defeated the Apollos in straight sets Thursday, Sept. 16, at Jesuit High School.Sunset (4-7, 2-2) too started slow, but battled for much of the second set before fading late. The Apollos led early and stayed within three points of the powerful Crusaders (8-0, 3-0) thanks in large part to the play of senior Avery Guthrie, along with athletic sophomore Thanvi Chilukuri who pulled Sunset within 18-15 at one point. But ultimately a series of blocks by Jesuit's Lily Lansing and more Masingale proved too much in the set and ultimately the match, helping the home team remain undefeated.

The match was the first of the season for Jesuit in front of a home crowd, something Alexander said was a little problematic early.

"This was our first game with fans and I think that was a problem in the start," she said. "It was nice to have, but we haven't had any for the past two seasons, so I think we got distracted. But in the end I think we played good, but we can definitely play better."

Senior Hannah Nguyen said the match with Sunset was the type of competition the team needs in order to compete going forward. She – and they – know that Jesuit always has a target on their backs, but said that in order to accomplish their goals they need that competition to season them for what they hope are the state playoffs and a deep run in the tournament.

"We try to make sure that every game we compete in, that we're always trying our best," Nguyen said. "Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and obviously achieve our highest goal, so we always have that in the back of our head."

Masingale finished with 10 kills for the Crusaders, while Ceanna O'Loughlin added six, Lansing five, and Avery Pickard four.

Sunset was led by Chilukuri and Guthrie who talled six apiece.

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