Coach Paul Brock would be the first to tell you that there are years when less-experienced players have to go through the growing pains of getting better and that the won-lost record often takes a beating in the process.
Such is the case for Brock's GPS volleyball team.
However, the veteran coach was happy and smiling following Wednesday's 3-1 non-district victory over visiting Signal Mountain.
The Bruisers came on strong in the first two sets to prevail by scores of 25-18 and 25-19 before the Lady Eagles bounced back to claim the third set by a similar 25-19 score.
Then in the fourth set, the Lady Eagles appeared to be on track as they built a 10-4 lead before Brock called timeout to regroup.
The Bruisers slowly trimmed the deficit before things really got tight in the closing moments when the score was tied at 17, 19 and 24 before the Bruisers captured the match with the 26-24 win.
Olivia Berger, who leads the Chattanooga area in kills with an average of 6.6 per game, recorded another at match point as the Bruisers improved to 9-15 with the win. She finished another outstanding effort with 26 kills, 22 digs, four blocks, two aces and an assist.
"They beat us the last time we played, so it was nice to come back and win here today," Brock said moments after the match ended.
"Ball control was the key for us. We have the ability to run a pretty good offense, but I think we decided to take a break in that third set. We weren't aggressive and were playing more not to lose than to win.
"I told them during one of our late timeouts that we just needed to get the ball across the net and force them into making the mistakes. Signal Mountain has some outstanding blockers on the front and we did a good job of playing around them, but we're getting better. We continue to learn," Brock concluded with a smile.
It's been a tough couple of weeks for coach Jennifer Redman and her Lady Eagles. Wednesday's loss gave them a record of 15-10, but it was their third straight defeat and fourth in the past five matches.
"This was a better effort than we've been getting and I'm proud of that, but we're still way too inconsistent," Redman explained when it was all said and done.
"We have to be in control of what we're doing out there and today we were not. We needed someone to step up and take charge, but nobody did. We could have easily given up after losing the first two sets, but we showed a little more fight than we've been showing," she added.
Taelor Kellum was the leader for Signal Mountain with 13 kills, 11 digs and six blocks while Amanda Thielges had 26 assists to go along with 13 digs. Aryn Sanders finished the day with 21 digs.
While Berger led the Bruisers in kills and digs, Jenna Simpson had 19 assists. Caroline Vance had 25 digs while Gabby Hughes had 14 assists and eight aces along with seven digs.
Angela Bonds, who can jump like a jackrabbit, finished with 13 kills and nine digs.
Signal Mountain's next match will be at home on Thursday against 7-AA foe Bledsoe County. Then they'll join GPS and about 30 other teams for the popular Tennessee Tandem tournament, which will be held at GPS, Ooltewah and Baylor.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN STATS:
Aryn Sanders -- 21 digs;
Kennady Collick -- 11 digs, 6 kills;
Aubrie Johnson -- 5 kills, 2 blocks;
Taelor Kellum -- 13 kills, 11 digs, 6 blocks;
Amanda Theiges -- 13 digs, 26 assists;
Carolynn Thielges -- 11 digs;
Natalie Greve -- 2 digs, 2 kills;
Kira Carlton -- 2 kills, 3 digs.
Kelby Crownover -- 16 digs, 1 ace;
Helen Johnston -- 2 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs;
Jenna Simpson -- 4 kills, 19 assists, 3 aces, 8 digs;
Olivia Berger -- 26 kills, 2 aces, 1 assist, 22 digs, 4 blocks;
Caroline Vance -- 1 kill, 1 ace, 25 digs;
Angela Bonds -- 13 kills, 9 digs, 2 blocks;
Allyce Buniak -- 3 kills, 6 digs, 3 blocks;
Katie Brandao -- 1 kill, 2 digs, 3 blocks;
Gabby Hughes -- 14 assists, 8 aces, 7 digs.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)