De Soto It became readily apparent the Seabury Academy girls volleyball team faced a massive uphill climb even before the Seahawks' first serve Tuesday at the De Soto quadrangular.
While De Soto was flawlessly executing its digging drills during pregame warm-ups, Seabury's inexperienced group struggled simply to pass and hit over the net. Of the eight players on the Seabury team, four never had played varsity, with two never having played any form of organized volleyball.
It didn't take long for the score to reflect the skill disparity.
De Soto pounded Seabury, 25-3, in just 12 minutes before taking the second game, 25-7, as the Seahawks managed only 10 serves in the two games.
Seabury also lost to Maranatha, 25-21, 25-17, and Atchison, 25-10, 25-3, falling to 0-5 this season.
"They get a little shell-shocked when a team is big," Seabury head coach Craig Friedrichsen said. "Especially when the serves come hard and flat."
The shock wore off long enough, however, for the smaller Seahawks to make it competitive in their matchup with Maranatha.
Junior Bria Phipps and sophomores Calli Noller and Jasmine Tse kept Seabury in the game with consistent serving and led, 13-7, in the first game, but the Eagles reeled off seven straight points to take the lead. Despite tying the score four different times, Seabury never led again.
Friedrichsen said going up against two Class 4A schools - De Soto and Atchison - was especially difficult for the Class 1A Seahawks.
"We're not particularly tall, we're not particularly experienced, and it just makes it really hard," Friedrichsen said. "I mean, this meet is a booger, because De Soto is very good, and Atchison is always big and strong and physical, and they hammer the ball. So yeah, I knew this was going to be tough."
Although inexperienced, Seabury does have time to grow. There are no seniors on this year's team. That's something that Phipps, named the team's captain, thinks is a good thing.
"Our main goal is just to get those young players to a point where they feel like they can compete with better teams," Phipps said.
Atchison proved to be the toughest opponent for Seabury, combining height up front and powerful spikes off sets to subdue the Seahawks.
Phipps noted the biggest goal for the team would be handling those tough spikes in the future and staying in the match longer.
In all, Seabury had just six kills combined in the three matches and twice as many errors.
But for Friedrichsen, the key to this season has less to do with statistics and nothing to do with the scoreboard. It's simply about trying to get better.
"If we see improvement, and they get some success," he said, "that's what this year's all about."
Seabury will return to action Thursday at home against McLouth and Elwood.