QUINCY -- Even teams with as much talent as the Quincy Notre Dame volleyball team has can be excused for having first-match butterflies.
The Raiders used eight players on Wednesday who were part of last year's team that finished second in the Class 2A state tournament, but they trailed Unity 19-18 late in the first set thanks to five net violations, two hitting errors and two service reception errors.
"I don't know if we were nervous, but we weren't playing together as a team like we know we can," junior Taylor Keck said.
The Raiders finally cleaned up their act and won their season opener 25-21, 25-11 at the Pit.
Courtney Kvitle, who made her debut as QND's coach, wasn't terribly concerned about the poor start.
"It's day one, it's game one, it's a crowd, it's all the nerves, it's my first time coaching," she said. "There's no excuses, but there are some jitters. We're working on our communication, and in a loud gym, that needs to be heightened.
"You just have to be calm. I had confidence we would still win. Game two was a different story. We played a lot better. They even looked comfortable out there. By the end, we were on all cylinders."
Kills from Carson Moore, Addison Miller and Krista Schrader helped Unity race to a 9-4 lead in the first set. McKenna Little served six straight points to help QND go ahead 12-10, but the Mustangs surged back in front 17-15 when the Raiders made errors on four straight points.
"I kind of assumed that we would be right there with them," Unity coach Alese Speckhart said. "I'm very proud of how they played that first set."
Monica Brown had two blocks and a kill to help QND regain the lead, and Meredith Siebers punctuated the first set with a kill for the final point.
Junior Sydney Hummert took over in the second set.
She had five kills and three service aces as the Raiders roared out to a 12-5 lead. Unity closed to within 13-9, but Lauren Roberts served up seven consecutive points (with two aces) to put the set away.
Junior Katie Ray got her first start on the varsity on Wednesday, and she had two kills and a block to help QND grab the lead.
"For a girl who didn't play much last year, she did well. We have to build Katie's confidence," Kvitle said. "It's just going to take time."
Hummert finished with nine kills, while Brown and Keck had five each.
Kvitle has been experimenting with Keck as a libero in the preseason, but she was back in the lineup as a hitter on Wednesday.
"I'll just play where ever the team needs us," Keck said. "If (Kvitle) puts me somewhere she needs me to be, it's best for everybody."
Miller had five kills for the Mustangs (1-1).