Blue Mountain head coach Nick Marrongelle couldn't have asked for a better start to the season.
Three days after capturing the championship of the Pine Grove Invitational, the Lady Eagles claimed their first Schuylkill League Division 1 victory with a three-game sweep of Tamaqua, 25-21, 25-17, 25-21.
"These girls have been in the gym all summer long pushing themselves, and I think that's carried over into the start of the season," stated Marrongelle. "I have a team full of girls that have a desire to compete, a desire to win and a desire to be great, and as a first-year head coach, you can't ask for anything more than that."
While both Tamaqua and Blue Mountain returned only three starters from a season ago, Marrongelle had the luxury of retaining senior setter Brandi Moyer (who has started for the Eagles since her sophomore year) to add stability and leadership to a starting lineup consisting of six juniors.
"Having Brandi back is huge," added Marrongelle. "She's the only senior on the floor, and the rest of the girls really look up to her as a leader, a motivator and a competitor. She's the heart of our team and I want my best player touching the ball as much as possible."
The stats certainly didn't lie, as Moyer dished off 15 assists, added 11 digs, served up nine points and tallied a team-high six kills (from the setter position).
Tamaqua, jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the first game, but a Jordann Seasock eight-point service run pulled Blue Mountain ahead 12-6. Leading 23-14, Blue Mountain committed four straight hitting errors and a Devan Sweeney ace brought the Lady Raiders to within 23-20. However, Moyer came to the rescue with a setter dump to stop the bleeding, en route to the 25-21 victory.
Moyer then propelled Blue Mountain to a 4-0 lead to start game two behind three service points. A five-point service run by Seasock upped the lead to 13-5, before Tamaqua's Sarah Paluck rattled off five points to bring her team to within three (12-15). However, the Lady Eagles regained momentum and coasted to the 25-17 win.
Tamaqua appeared to right the ship to start the third game, as the Raiders used a five-point service run by Sweeney to jump out to a 7-1 lead. However, Blue Mountain tied the game at 13-13 on a four-point service run by Moyer, which included two kills.
Both teams exchanged points with Blue Mountain eventually clinging to a 22-21 lead. On the next three volleys, Tamaqua committed two hitting errors and a carry violation to give the Eagles the match with a 25-21 victory.
"When we jumped out to that big lead to start the third game, I thought for sure that things were starting to turn in our favor," stated Tamaqua head coach Stacy Setlock. "Toward the end, we just ran out of steam and we started making stupid mistakes again."
For the match, Tamaqua committed 23 hitting errors and 10 service errors, as opposed to Blue Mountain, which committed 18 and 3 respectively.
Sarah Lesisko had eight kills and five points to lead Tamaqua, while Sarah Paluck added seven points and four kills. Devan Sweeney's 14 points (3 aces) also paced the Raiders' attack.
"Blue Mountain played better defensively than we did tonight, but otherwise, we were our own worst enemy with costly errors at costly times," stated Setlock. "We don't have any consistency on the court right now and we have a lot of cleaning up to do after tonight."
Things certainly do not get any easier for Tamaqua (0-1) as it travels to Division 1 favorite Pottsville on Thursday night.