TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- It says quite a bit about how far the Amsterdam High School girls volleyball team has come in the first month of the 2013 season that head coach Christine Sherlock could come away from a three-game sweep victory feeling disappointed.
But, given that Thursday's 25-12, 25-19, 25-18 win over Bishop Maginn was a generally sloppy effort saved primarily by the Lady Rams' improving ability at the service line, that's exactly how Sherlock felt.
"It's a win, but actually, it's the first time all year I've been disappointed in them," Sherlock said. "Coming into today, I was pretty confident that we had a win, but unfortunately I think they were, too. I think they underestimated (Bishop Maginn) and didn't play to the level they are able to."
Following a match in which the Lady Rams had to rally from early deficits in all three games, junior outside hitter Destinee Smith echoed those sentiments.
"It definitely feels good to get a home win, that's what we've been working for, but this isn't the best that we can play," said Smith, who finished with three kills and six aces. "I think we all really realized that."
Senior captain Cassidy Arocho posted five assists and a pair of kills for Amsterdam, but it was the team's serving prowess that proved to be the difference. The team racked up 19 aces -- nine from Yari Laboy, six from Smith, three from Yarinez Diaz and one from Gabby Catena -- to help swing the momentum back to their side whenever Bishop Maginn staked out an advantage.
After serving problems plagued the team over the early portion of the season -- a fact easily attributed to the team's overwhelming inexperience, with just three returning varsity players -- Smith said the Lady Rams have turned that weakness into a strength.
"That's something that we've really been working on, because it killed us the first couple weeks," she said. "We've definitely improved in that, and I think it's gonna help us through the rest of the season."
After winning the first two games Thursday, the Lady Rams fell into a deep early hole in the third set, trailing 10-4. Then, with Bishop Maginn leading 17-15, the game turned when the Lady Griffins were penalized for having an incorrect server, handing a point to Amsterdam.
Diaz followed with an ace to tie the game as Amsterdam scored 10 of the final 11 points to finish off the victory.
"It was like, do-or-die at that point, and we knew we had to do that," Smith said. "Sometimes, I think the pressure gets us playing better."
And while Sherlock was pleased with the way that her young club fought its way back from early deficits, she wasn't particularly encouraged with the way her team was forced to dig itself out of its own holes to post its second win of the season.
"We came from behind in all three games, but we never should have gotten ourselves in a hole at all. But, a win is a win and we'll take it," Sherlock said.
With a quick turnaround for today's match at Albany High followed by taking part in a massive, 16-team tournament Saturday at Schalmont, Sherlock said the Lady Rams need to improve off Thursday's performance if they want their early-season progress to continue.
"I just told the kids, 'If we play like we played today, they're gonna take our heads off. So, we've got to step it up,'" she said. "Hopefully, we'll bring it around."