Spring Grove High boys' volleyball coach Bill Hahn knew he had a difficult rebuilding project this season. His Rockets graduated five starters from a team that made the state playoffs, and many of the returning players had very little varsity experience.
The team has started slowly this year, and Hahn, desperate for production, started two freshmen Monday. The change wasn't enough as the Rockets lost to Lower Dauphin 25-13, 25-17, 30-28 at Spring Grove in front of 91 people.
"I got to teach them the fundamentals they haven't been exposed to," Hahn said. "It's tough. Trying to replace those guys from last year, I'll just put it this way, we're never going to replace those guys from last year. There were too many weapons on that team."
The Rockets (5-5) started well Monday, trailing just 12-11 in the first game, before Lower Dauphin (7-1) began to widen the margin, scoring 13 of the next 15 points for the 25-13 win. The cause for the Falcons' slow start, coach David Machamer believes, was his players were trying to muscle the ball on serves.
"We always start slow," he said. "We try and do more on the serve because it looks cool. Rather than just keeping the ball in, they try to force the ball through guys at the beginning, trying too hard to get an ace than putting it in play and see what happens.
"We're slowly getting through that. I give them the opportunity the first couple serves. After that, you saw me changing the guys in the serve, bringing the guys up that aren't consistent."
Spring Grove trailed just 12-10 toward the midpoint of the second game, but the Falcons scored eight of the next 13 points on their way to a 25-17 win.
The Rockets trailed 23-19 late in the third game, but tied the score at 24 and 25 before building their first lead of the night, 26-25. They held a 27-26 lead, but the Falcons finished the game behind senior Andrew Roberts, a Penn State recruit who had 15 kills, one assist, two blocks, nine digs
"He's phenomenal," Machamer said. "He knows exactly his arm swing, He knows how much power to put into things. He tried a serve tonight where he spinned it to the four spot (on the court). That's not an easy serve. He was trying things to get ready (for college). He knows the game tremendously."
Added Hahn: "We know he's going to get his shots. We know he's going to rip them off."
The Rockets were led by senior Drew Blecher, the only senior with four years of varsity experience. He finished with two kills, 19 assists and four digs.
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at Spring Grove
LOWER DAUPHIN 3, SPRING GROVE 0
(25-13, 25-17, 30-28)
LD stats -- Andrew Roberts (15 kills, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 9 digs, 4 aces), John Wenger (37 assists, 8 digs).
SG stats -- Drew Blecher (2 kills, 19 assists, 4 digs), Dalton Hall (9 digs, 1 assist), Aaron Hoff (14 kills, 3 blocks, 3 digs, 2 assists).
JV Score -- Lower Dauphin def. Spring Grove, 25-23, 25-21.