ST. CHARLES – Senior libero Sam Pulcanio spots several familiar faces when he sets up the defense for the St. Charles East boys volleyball team.
That the Saints gaze back from different positions in the huddle has helped illustrate their slow start, which continued with Monday’s 25-20, 25-22 loss to Wheaton North.
“A lot of our guys have experience through club and stuff, and everybody here definitely has a lot of skill,” Pulcanio said. “But there are definitely people who are playing in spots that they’re not familiar with and that are new to them. We’re doing really well at adjusting, we just need a little bit more time to fully adjust and play our positions.”
East (2-4) grabbed an early lead in the second game before surrendering a key 5-0 run that put it behind for the remainder of the match.
Several points later, Saints coach Kate McCullagh and assistant Mike Bui brought forth an issue with the Falcons’ libero substitution. The ruling pulled East to within 18-13, but any further momentum was squelched when the Saints uncorked a service error.
“I don’t know if there was a turning point; I think it was pretty consistently rough throughout the whole match,” McCullagh said. “I just think that we’re making silly errors, and I think through practice and working together, we’ll be able to hopefully get the kinks out.”
The Saints graduated just one starter from last season’s team.
While Pulcanio, a third-year varsity member, remains a mainstay at libero, Iain O’Connor has balanced time at setter and middle hitter while Clayton Davis sees more time at right-side than before.
East’s attack showed well in spurts, with Tom DeBruyne (10 assists), finding Tom Dieter, Jacob Samuels, Luke Spicer and R.J. Yoder – who smacked four kills apiece. Zach Sinn paced the Falcons with seven kills.
“They didn’t do anything overly special. There were just moments where we fell flat and we couldn’t quite get our feet out from under us,” said Pulcanio, who had nine digs. “So we just need to work on getting out of those positions where we’re in a hole and then coming back from those.”
Wheaton North coach Bob St. Leger acknowledged his mistake in the libero subsitution while calling the victory a blend of “sharp in some areas, and I guess a little lazy in some areas.”
McCullagh knows that kind of early-season victory, but would just as soon see her team get everything fixed first before going on a tear.
“We’d love to win games now,” she said, “but the focus is to just get better throughout the season.”