ROYERSFORD — It was a night of early season miscues and miscommunication Tuesday as the Spring-Ford Rams fell to Downingtown East in four sets in a Ches-Mont matchup at Spring-Ford Gymnasium.Set scores were 25-22, 11-25, 19-25, 16-25.
"To come out like we did in the first game and get a win, that was huge,' said Spring-Ford head coach Josh McNulty. "And then we started to struggle on serve-and-receive which ended up costing us. Overall though, I'm proud of our performance.'
The Rams (0-1) looked crisp in the opening set as senior Jessica Cantello posted three of her six kills and one of her four blocks while sophomore Paige DeAlba had three of her 14 assists.
But in the following three sets, Spring-Ford struggled to get the ball to the front row and had a hard time setting up the offense while the Eagles (1-0) started clicking both offensively and defensively.
"I was happy that we kept our composure after playing so poorly in the first game,' said Downingtown East head coach Lex Ripper. "We switched our lineup around and began to execute really well in the final three games. Our players did an excellent job tonight.'
According to McNulty, this being the first game of the season, the Rams are still searching for an identity.
Having graduated nine seniors from last year's 17-6 Spring-Ford team, the fourth-year coach knows that the players still have to get on the same page and develop trust in one another in order to be successful this season. With just four seniors on the roster (Cantello, Mairead Cassidy, Madison Curley and Madden Sciubba), the Rams will look to juniors Brittany Holman, Ashley Darreff and Lisa Jurewicz as well as sophomores DeAlba and Sophia Cinti to play a consistent role throughout the season.
"We have a young team and just need time to jell and feel comfortable on the court,' he said. "After tonight's match, I have a lot of hope for this team. Once we figure it out, we are going to be a tough team to beat.'
On the other hand, the Eagles, led by senior Lauren Mueller's 25 kills and four blocks, looked as though they were in mid-season form despite graduating four seniors last season.
"Our passing has improved so much since we started practicing together just a few weeks ago,' Mueller said. "That helped our offense all night. It opens up the court and gives us a lot more opportunity to score.'
Alongside Mueller, Margot Gargus added 12 kills and eight digs.
"Downingtown East is always a strong program and a tough team to beat,' said McNulty. "We showed a lot of potential tonight.'
The Rams did show glimpses of promise throughout the night, as Darreff had eight kills including three aces while Sciubba had seven kills. Jurcewicz had 22 digs and DeAlba had 19. Cinti added 11 assists while Cantello had three blocks.
"Right now, we need to gain confidence in ourselves and the team,' said McNulty. "We have all the necessary skill and the potential. We're going to take the positives from tonight as well as the negatives and work hard on all of them.'
Follow Thomas Nash on Twitter at @Thomas_Nash10.