A late surge wasn’t enough for the Lady Cyclones to win their season opener. The Ottawa High School varsity volleyball team fell at home to Spring Hill Tuesday 25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-19.

Ottawa had leads in every set, but only managed to take one from its league opponent. A number of players made their varsity debut on a team that returns three from last season — seniors Allina Kerns and Payton Bruce, and sophomore Darby Weidl.

“I have to give them credit, Spring Hill is a good team,” Laura Jeannin, OHS head volleyball coach, said. “It was our first outing and Spring Hill has already played. We have three girls returning this year, so a lot of our girls step on the court this year and they don’t have a lot of varsity experience. That goes to say a lot about the leadership of the three that are returning.”

Among the fresh faces for Ottawa was Kirsten Evans, freshman setter, who put on a hardy performance staying in the match for the final set after tweaking an ankle late in the third.

“She is a kid with grit,” Jeannin said. “She is tough. She wants to be on the court every single play. She also knows that she is our only setter. With injuries and girls that decided not to play this year, she is all we have and she knows that. She puts the team on her back, which is hard to do as a freshman, but her and I both know that is her expectation and she is going to give it everything she has got to make our team better.”

Ottawa looked poised to make a comeback after taking the third set. The team exploded out to a 9-2 lead in the fourth, only to have Spring Hill score seven straight points. OHS never recovered.

Despite the loss, this year’s expectations for the team will be that of any varsity team, Jeannin noted.

“I’ve got to put it on them,” she said. “They know my expectations for them. We’ve really talked these last few days about, why do you play volleyball and why are you here and why are we passionate about this? They’ve worked on that. They know where I am at and they want to match that, but they also have their own expectations for what they want this season to be. I expect them to compete like any varsity team. I won’t put somebody on the court that I don’t think should be there. We want to compete with everybody that we play. While we lost some seniors and we have a lot of new faces, they know the expectation is the same otherwise I wouldn’t have them on the court.”

Ottawa (0-1) plays 6:30 p.m. today at home against Blue Valley Southwest.