It was the kind of night every young team goes through.
The Francis Scott Key Eagles were never able to get into sync last night and a pretty good Smithsburg team made them pay.
Serves were going long, first hits had setters running around and hits were falling wide for the Eagles. The visiting Leopards, always among the elite of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League, countered with consistency and strong net play from Jamie Bachtell and Alexa Robertson to claim a three-game sweep.
The scores were 15-11, 15-5 and 15-2.
"I thought our inexperience really caught up with us," said Francis Scott Key coach Leo Totten.
"We have to expect to win instead of just hanging in with the better teams like Smithsburg. It was just one of those nights where you put it behind you and go on. I have a lot of confidence in this team, [and have] high expectations."
It was only the second loss of the season for the Eagles, who start three sophomores, to go with five wins.
They got off to a good start, leading 4-0 in the first game, but couldn't come up with the big points when needed.
Smithsburg (4-3) did. Trailing 8-7, the Leopards took the lead for good with Jessica Brown serving. She had an ace and Bachtell a kill to help give the Leopards a 10-8 lead. They never trailed again, winning the first game when Ericka Rutzebeck's hit went long for Key.
"I thought we did OK that first game. We didn't play particularly well, but were still in it," Totten said.
"We just never got into a flow. It seemed we didn't serve more than two in a row at any time and you can't put points on the board if you can't keep the ball in play."
"We also had some problems with our first pass. You want to try to keep the setter two feet from the net and that happened only a couple of times. When the setters are running all around, it makes it tough to get the good set. [Smithsburg] was very consistent, but I don't think they are 15-5, 15-2 better than us like the last two games."
Senior Maureen Ritcey played a solid all-around match and sophomore hitter Stephanie Stambaugh had some strong kills for the Eagles.
Francis Scott Key gets right back in action Thursday when it takes on fellow MVAL foe Catoctin, who handed the Eagles their first loss of the season.