It was a youthful look for St. Michael when it hosted East Ascension in the season opener for both schools Tuesday evening.
East Ascension countered with a lineup that featured four seniors including middle blockers, Truli Joseph and Daisha Mosley, and the Spartans proved to be too much as they won in straight sets 25-22, 25-9 and 25-15.
Joseph led the way with 13 kills and three blocks, and Mosley added seven kills. Fellow seniors Londyn Brown (18 assists) and Abby LeBourgeois (16 digs) also played important roles.
“We didn’t come out as strong as I thought we could have, but we adjusted,” said EA coach Jamie Gilmore, whose squad lost in the second round of the Division I playoffs last season.
“We had to take a step back and refocus. We did a good job in the second and third sets of keeping St. Michael off-balance, and not letting them run as much of their offense.”
St. Michael advanced to the Division III semifinals last season, but that team had six seniors including 6-foot-3 middle blocker Amber Igiede. Returning starters Karleigh Bourgoyne and Lexi Gonzalez are in new positions this season as the Warriors look to create a new identity.
Bourgoyne had 11 assists, eight digs and two kills, while Gonzalez finished with 10 digs and four kills. Freshman Nicole Benigno had 21 digs.
“We’ve got to be a good ball control team because we don’t have those big bangers like we’ve had in the past,” St. Michael coach Rob Smith said. “We know that about ourselves so we’ve got to make good decisions. We didn’t do that with some of our balls tonight whether it was hitting or setting, but its the first game of the season and EA is a good team.”
The opening set was the most competitive of the game, and featured multiple runs and lead changes by each team. By the time Jena Vavasseur’s ace gave St. Michael a 21-17 lead there had been four lead changes.
East Ascension made sure there was one more.
Aided by three St. Michael hitting errors, East Ascension scored the next six points to take a 23-21 lead. After an EA setting error got St. Michael within a point, Gonzalez’ spike was wide right and Joseph added a kill to lift the Spartans to a 25-22 win.
East Ascension led throughout the second set, and trailed briefly at the start of the third set before taking control.