ROACHDALE -- Monday saw the curtain open for the North Putnam volleyball team's 2010 season. After watching the JV win in two sets over Riverton Parke by scores of 25-11 and 25-16, things seemed to be rolling the hosts' way.
The Panthers, however, were not so generous in the varsity contest.
A combination of early jitters, occasional lapses and well placed shots saw the visitors sweep the Cougars in three sets by scores of 15-25, 14-25 and 18-25.
North Putnam stumbled out of the blocks in the first set, with miscommunication compounding problems for the Cougars. Riverton Parke shot out to an early 7-16 lead before North head coach Jill Schrieber went to rally her squad. The rest of the first set was a back and forth affair, one that the Panthers could live with as they rode out the scoring to win 15-25.
The Cougars kept the fight going into the second set where they led early 9-8 against the Panthers. From that point on, however, the same issues that cost the hosts the first set came back in spades. Panther senior Katelynn Rewers went on a 12-serve run that turned the contest upside down on the Cougars and put the second set out of reach.
Trailing by two sets to none, North Putnam was slow to start the third set as well. Down 3-11, Megan Robinson snagged back four straight points on serve, only to watch as the Panthers went on another run that seemingly put the contest out of reach.
Lax decision-making by the Panthers allowed North to close the gap to as close as 17-23, but the Panthers nailed down two of the last three points en route to the three set sweep.
North coach Schrieber knew it would be an uphill battle with an inexperienced team.
"I have a very young team. I only have two seniors," Schrieber said. "I have two starters that are sophomores who didn't play a lot last year. At one point, we had four sophomores and two juniors out there, so we are a young team. Our nerves had us tonight, got the best of us."
Schreiber added about her seniors, "Megan Robinson is a returning starter as is Danielle Harbison as a setter. They're going to have to show that leadership and say 'you're going to have to go here, you're going to have to go there' and they're great girls. They're very polite and they're not going to scream and yell. They're going to be good leaders and step up into that role."
While certainly not the start any coach wants, coach Schrieber had a good idea of where to start working next.
"We're going to work on tips. We got beat a lot by tips tonight (Monday) and not being able to read the hitter. We need to show our younger girls how they need to defend against that. They're going to have to watch the ball instead of the players and teaching those girls that this is what happens when you get into this type of competition," Schrieber said.
With a formidable Covenant Christian side looming, North will have to rebound quickly to be ready on Thursday.
"We are going to have to change up our defense a little bit to cover up those holes. Covenant Christian is a very quick team, maybe use one defender instead of two. We'll see how it goes in practice and go from there," Schrieber added.
At North Putnam
Riverton Parke 25 25 25
North Putnam 15 14 18
Next Contest -- North Putnam will travel to Covenant Christian to play in a JV/Varsity double header, starting at 5:30 p.m.