Oak Creek A fast start propelled Soroco High School to a big early season win Saturday at Paonia, but the Rams were on the other end of a fast start Thursday as they battled North Park at home.
Soroco fell behind early and never regained its composure, losing in three games, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19.
"At Paonia, we went in like we were going to go down swinging, and we played our hardest," sophomore Lindsay Miles said. "We went into this game a little scared and afraid to lose. We need to keep our heads up, play together and work together."
North Park set the tone for the night in the first 10 points of the first game. The Wildcats were dominant defensively and with their outside hitters.
The Wildcats repeatedly handled anything the Rams could get over the net and wasted little time returning those balls with powerful and often point-winning swings.
Soroco fell behind 8-1 in the first game, then 23-11, and never seriously challenged.
"They're very scrappy. They picked the ball right back up and sent it back," Soroco coach Kim Reeves said about North Park. "We had some good defense also, picked up a lot of balls that could have dropped."
Much of Soroco's struggles stemmed from the team's inability to consistently handle and return the North Park attack.
"We're fairly experienced. We have a lot of seniors," North Park coach Randy Hodgson said. "That paid off. We didn't make as many mistakes as Soroco did, but we shouldn't make as many mistakes as they will. Our girls have played longer."
The Rams' big hitters got few chances to swing hard for kills, and thanks to the relentless North Park defense, were unable to convert many that they did get.
Often, Soroco was left just tapping the ball back over as the traditional mantra of "bump, set, spike" took a back seat to long stretches of "bump, set, bump."
Still, Soroco wasn't without its moments. The Rams were much better in the second game than the first. The score was tied at 7 and Soroco hung tight late, too, closing to within one at 18-17.
A Miles kill went just long to break a long Soroco run, however, and North Park rallied to close out the game, allowing the Rams just two more points.
Soroco didn't start the third game very well, either, but closed strong. After trailing 14-7, 18-9 and 24-15, the Rams closed within five at 24-19.
None of it did much to lengthen Thursday's match, but it did set an impression on Hodgson.
"Soroco, they're going to be scary soon," he said. "They have a lot of young and exciting athletes. Volleyball's such an emotional game. If you set a tone and get going good, it can change everything."