LYNN– A tough test awaited the St. Mary’s volleyball team on Tuesday afternoon when the Spartans hosted Catholic Central League rival Arlington Catholic at Conigliaro Gymnasium. The Spartans found some answers, but they weren’t the ones the team was hoping for.
Arlington Catholic made quick work of the Spartans by winning the match in consecutive sets, 25-8, 25-16 and 25-7.
“Arlington Catholic’s always a tough test,” St. Mary’s coach Erin Menard said. “They always go far in the league and they always go far in the state tournament. I thought the second set was one of the better sets we played all season. We’re a young team, we don’t have any seniors. We’re going to have a learning curve this year.”
The first set of the match was all Arlington Catholic. A 3-3 tie quickly went in the Cougar’s favor when the visitors stormed out to a 10-3 lead with seven consecutive points. The Cougars never looked back from there, en route to the 25-8 set win.
The Spartans got off to a better start in the second set of play, as St. Mary’s claimed a quick 4-1 lead. After the Cougars clawed back in to tie the set at 4-4, an 11-5 rally saw Arlington Catholic back in the driver’s seat with a 15-9 lead. St. Mary’s got as close as within two points of Arlington Catholic but the Cougars closed the set on a high note for the 25-16 win.
“I thought our energy was up in that second set,” Menard said. “We were really digging for the balls. We stayed together as a team and I thought it was a different energy and a different feel. If we can come out and play like that every night, day in and day out, we’ll be in every match.”
The third set was much like the first as the Cougars took command early and the Spartans themselves in a steep hole. Arlington Catholic took the set win, 25-7.
“I thought our serving was pretty strong today,” Menard said. “We definitely had our ups and downs. Arlington Catholic’s a team that serves very well. They definitely spot serve, so they were going for our weaknesses which is tough to do for most teams.”
Despite the loss, Menard applauded Grace Fielding and Gabby Torres for strong performances.
“I thought Gabby played unbelievable defense,” Menard said. “She was everywhere. She got some balls up where I wasn’t sure where she came from. Grace was our leader tonight, she keeps our energy up all the time.”
Moving forward, the Spartans will look to improve on the defensive side of the game.
“We definitely have to work on our defense,” Menard said. “We definitely have to work on reading opposing hitters a little bit better. Arlington Catholic’s a very strong team overall, so that was a good test for us to see where we’re at and what we have to work on in practice.”
“We don’t see them again until the end of October,” Menard added. “Hopefully by then we’re a much better team.”
St. Mary’s falls to 1-1 on the young season and will aim to get back on the win column on Thursday when the Spartans host Austin Prep.