For a team coming off a two-win season, you have some growing pains in order to see progress.
The Mankato East volleyball squad is certainly going through that at the beginning of the 2012 season. Those pains continued Thursday night at East gym as Rochester John Marshall made quick work in a 25-7, 25-16, 25-18 in a Big Nine Conference matchup.
The loss drops East to 0-4, and in those four losses, they’ve managed to win only one game (in their season opener versus Hutchinson). Head coach Mary Nelson is still seeing positives though in the rough start.
“They’re growing, they really are,” Nelson said. “They’re growing as a team, and they’re understanding the game a little bit better.”
The Cougars came out flat in the opening game where miscommunication was a factor in letting many balls fall harmlessly on their side on the net.
“It’s difficult when you’re still thinking and trying to play,” Nelson said. “You can’t think through volleyball; you’ve got to play.”
The second game started better for East as a service ace from freshman Allison Taylor gave the Cougars a 3-2 advantage. The Rockets then built a 12-5 lead, but Taylor tried to lead a comeback. She blocked two JM kill attempts on the same play, but the Rockets still manage to win the game.
Even though they’re winless, Taylor still sees some bright spots.
“We have moments of perfect passing and perfect setting and perfect hitting,” she said. “We’re getting better with our blocks so I’m excited.”
Taylor led the Cougars with six kills and four blocks.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” said Nelson. “She gets it. She can read the court, and she’s a big presence for us. It’s hard to say a ninth-grader is a mature volleyball player, but she really is.”
Jordan Kuster and Shelby Beckman each added four kills for the Cougars. Kayla Milbrandt served two aces, and Taylor Karge helped out with 19 assists.
East will look to get their first win Saturday as they play in the Mankato West Tournament at Minnesota State. Taylor is anxious to see her team’s first victory.
“I’m looking forward to putting everything together finally and getting a win,” she said.