San Antonio – St. Mary’s University senior volleyball player Kori McCarver entered Friday night’s contest against the nation’s sixth-ranked team with two goals in mind, the primary of which practically went unsaid.

But considering the quality of the opponent and the fact the Rattlers’ season remains young – and with a brand-new system, at that – McCarver realized there was a deeper layer to this particular matchup than just winning.

This was about observing and self-assessing, so that just maybe in a few months the Rattlers could end up where Washburn University sits today.

The Rattlers put a scare in Washburn early, leading 10-5 in the first set, but eventually fell in three sets in the St. Mary’s Invitational at Bill Greehey Arena.

St. Mary’s (1-2) also lost to Wheeling Jesuit University 3-0 earlier in the day, but McCarver said the Rattlers left the evening a better team.

“Coming in we were just trying to think of what we could learn going up against a team ranked that high,” said McCarver (San Antonio), a senior setter, of the sixth-ranked team in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason coaches’ poll.

“We went in just thinking we were going to do our best and learn as much as we could.”

Observation No. 1: The Rattlers now know how to better read their opponent’s hitters, McCarver said – a potentially key development moving forward.

Washburn battled back after the Rattlers jumped to an early 10-5 lead to take a lead of their own at 14-13. St. Mary’s then evened the score at 14-14, but ended up losing 25-19 before also falling in the next two sets. Junior defensive specialist Stephanie Flores (San Antonio) led the Rattlers with 14 digs, while McCarver posted 21 sets. Junior middle blocker Kirsten Chapman (Jourdanton, Texas) had a team-high seven kills. St. Mary’s will wrap up the tournament with a 3 p.m. contest Saturday against Maryville University-St. Louis at Bill Greehey Arena.

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