PRATT, Kans.- A back and forth affair did not tilt towards the Lady Beavers in their season opener, losing in straight sets to the Brookhaven Bears, 3-0.
Just as it was always going to be, first-year head coach Zac Rambo's first loss would be the first of his career. While he assuredly would have preferred a win in his coaching debut, he feels there's room for growth in him, as well as his players.
"We were in every game," Rambo said. "We have to figure out a way to win. I have a lot of freshman that need to loosen up."
Rambo was quick to credit the opposing side, as the Bears managed to set aside much of the raucous Beaver Dome noise.
"Brookhaven played well," Rambo said. "They made less mistakes than we did."
With 10 of the Beavers' 17 players on the court for the first time in their collegiate careers, it's understandable that a sense of nervousness may have been a factor. As Rambo patrolled the Lady Beavers' bench, he had a feeling that some of his players weren't playing as freely as he believes they are capable.
"You could see us get a little bit tense, and it was our freshmen out there getting a little bit tense" he explained. "There were some things that I could have done differently to help us be in a little bit better position."
In spite of the loss, the Lady Beavers were not outmatched in any of the three sets. The first ended 25-19, but after consecutive 26-24 sets going in the Bears' favor, Rambo did see positives working for his team, including the freshmen.
"I really liked how Kylee Harman passed," Rambo said. "She's not quite used to the big block but she passed really well. I was really happy with how Haylee Parker stepped up. I thought she played very, very well."
Parker led the Beavers with 19 digs.
"Chloe Bolt did a great job on the block, getting some touches and a couple swings. Jordan Jones came in and made a great adjustment. With a little more experience, you could tell it was just a little bit slower for her and there wasn't as much pressure on her."
Now, the Lady Beavers hit the road headed south, with four games at the Vernon College Classic on the docket. This weekend, Rambo hopes to see his group not feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. He just wants them to "loosen up and have fun."
"We're going to lose games and we're going to win games, but right now I want them to lose games aggressively. Tonight, I think we did that. We made too many mistakes but we lost being aggressive. We didn't give free balls, my libero was swinging, my outsides were swinging, and we need to continue doing that.
"We can't get shy, we can't get scared up front, we have to make sure we're always pressing and working hard."