FLORENCE — For a week the Florence Lady Buffs have been going head to head in their gym, going through defensive drills and lobbing kills at each other during practice.
But on Monday, they finally got a chance to welcome an opponent into their home gym and throw down those kill attempts against faces they are not acquainted with.
“It felt amazing to be in a real game and not just a scrimmage,” Florence defensive specialist Clarissa Carranco said.
Despite dropping their season opener to the Round Rock Christian Academy Lady Crusaders 25-16, 25-18, 25-18 on Monday, it felt good to get back to business for the Lady Buffs.
The Lady Buffs (0-1) are coming off a 6-19 season; including a 3-11 mark in District 22-2A.
The team opened preseason practice at the stroke of midnight on Aug. 4. And first-game jitters and nerves were to be expected before teams get into their regular Tuesday-Friday volleyball routine.
“I was impressed overall,” Florence head coach Kelly Stephens said. “I’m impressed, I’m excited.”
The Lady Buffs fell behind early in the match as a combination of five attacking and serving errors put Florence in a 7-2 hole it could not climb out of.
But things did get better in the second and third sets after the Lady Buffs had a chance to settle in.
“I thought we played pretty well for our first game of the season,” Carranco said. “We have some minor fixes, but we’re going to fix them at tomorrow’s practice and come out strong against McGregor.”
The Lady Buffs scored the first points and took an 11-10 lead in Game 3 off a Berenice Ramirez ace and tied the game at 15 after Roche had three consecutive kills. But RRCA closed out the match by scoring six of the final nine points to complete the sweep.
“We had a slow start and toward the end we started getting our stuff together,” Carranco said.
Despite the loss, Stephens said she was impressed by the play of the team’s back line.
The Lady Buffs graduated outside hitter Rebecca Horton, a Concordia University commit, this spring and were concerned about how opponents would attack Florence’s back line.
But after the first game, things look better than anticipated.
“I was concerned about our passing ability,” Stephens said. “Being in the right position, getting the ball back up, but I was overall pretty impressed and pretty pleased by our passing. I thought that was our biggest learning tool of the night.”
Florence will travel tonight to face McGregor. Game time is 7 p.m.