For most of the first game of yesterday's volleyball match against St. John's, Elizabeth Seton's team matched the Cadets kill for kill, dig for dig and point for point. But St. John's pulled out the game and then cruised to a 25-23, 25-14, 25-16 victory over the defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Roadrunners yesterday in Bladensburg.

The victory could not have come at a better time for St. John's. The Cadets (13-3, 9-2) are tied with Holy Cross for the top seed in the playoffs that begin next week. More importantly, St. John's regained momentum after a tough spell.

"It was not only important as we head to the playoffs, but we knew it was going to have the parameters of a playoff-style game," St. John's Coach Bill Pribac said. "Seton is still a good team. . . . We wanted to make a statement and show the character of our team."

After losing three consecutive matches two weeks ago, the St. John's players held a meeting in an effort to find the chemistry that had allowed the Cadets to win their first 10 matches of the season. The Cadets responded by notching victories last week against Good Counsel and Carroll.

But St. John's appeared to be unraveling in the first game against Elizabeth Seton (8-6, 7-6). There was little communication between St. John's players, and the Roadrunners tied the score at 23. But St. John's took the game on Roadrunners errors.

"Once we got the first game, we fed off their mistakes and then played our game," said senior outside hitter Jordan Dozier, who along with her sister, Kristen, combined for 16 kills. "After our losses, we were getting frustrated and not trusting each other. There was tension among teammates. But we put it out in the open and it's helping us play better."

In the second game, the Doziers -- both 6 feet 2 -- became a blocking presence up front and the Cadets got needed offensive spark from sophomore defensive specialist Jessica Cornejo's serving. Cornejo won six consecutive service points -- including three aces -- to give St. John's an 18-6 lead.

Cornejo had a similar service run in the third game to stake the Cadets to an 8-2 lead.

"She's got a strong serve, which makes it hard for opponents to get a point going," senior outside hitter Laura Peterson said. "Those kind of service rallies get us pumped up and everybody plays better."