BRIDGEPORT - As a standout volleyball player during her prep career at Mitchell High School, Taylor Briggs was part of many memorable wins.
On Saturday in the championship match of the Bridgeport Invitational, the first-year Bridgeport head coach guided the Bulldogs past her alma mater for the first time to claim the title.
"I have a lot of respect for their program," said Briggs, who graduated from Mitchell in 2014. "It's always going to be a program that's tough to beat no matter who they play against. I'm trying to get these girls to believe in themselves to be able to be like that, too."
After both the Bulldogs and Tigers cruised past Potter-Dix and Hyannis in the early action of the tournament, the Western Trails Conference rivals met for a slugfest in the final.
Bridgeport grabbed the first set 25-23 before Mitchell battled back to even the match with a 30-28 win in set two. The Tigers were able to save three match points in the set to stay alive.
It looked like Mitchell would carry that momentum into the deciding set after Trinity Penn served the Tigers into a quick 4-0 lead. However, Bridgeport freshman Aubrey Watts answered with a solid service run of her own to help the Bulldogs pull even. From there, the teams traded points back and forth for the majority of the play.
Bridgeport grabbed its first lead of the set at 14-13. Natalie Keenan-Vergil then stepped to the service line and served the next six points in a row as the Bulldogs took command at 20-13. The Tigers never got any closer than five points the rest of the way as Bridgeport claimed the set 25-20.
"I thought they played really awesome," Briggs said of her squad. "There's a lot of things that came out of today that I think will build confidence. I'm pretty excited about that."
Ruthie Loomis-Goltl finished the title match with 12 kills to lead the Bulldogs. Paige Schmunk added eight kills, while Karlie Deaver and Brooklyn Mohrman each finished with six.
Watts handed out 18 set assists and Schmunk added 10 assists.
Deaver and Keenan-Vergil served a pair of aces each, while Loomis-Goltl totaled four blocks to pace Bridgeport defensively.
In Bridgeport's 25-20, 25-18 sweep of Potter-Dix, Deaver fired in a team-high seven aces. Loomis-Goltl finished with six kills and five blocks. Watts dished out 10 assists and Grace Dean served four aces.
Loomis-Goltl totaled five kills in the Bulldogs' 25-10, 25-13 victory over Hyannis. Deaver finished with three kills and a pair of aces. Watts ended with eight assists and two aces and Schmunk had six assists and three aces. Dean finished with two aces.
Bridgeport improved to 8-1 with Saturday's results. The Bulldogs have won seven straight after falling to Mitchell during the opening week of the season.
Bridgeport will continue with a 12-match home stand on Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Sidney and Chadron in a triangular. Bridgeport will then host another invite next Saturday, Sept. 18.
Briggs is pleased with how her team is responding so far to a new coach in charge.
"Being a new coach there are a lot of things that are going into the process," she said. "There have been a lot of things we've been working on at the beginning of the season. There are many things they're constantly improving on."