COLUMBIA—As the second set collapsed, Hickman senior Loren Brooks sensed something negative seep into her volleyball team.
In its home opener Tuesday night, Hickman started out going toe-to-toe with Hannibal, leading by as many as two points early on before losing the first set, 25-17.
And then in the second set, something overcame them; something more than the constant barrage of Hannibal's attack on the other side of the net. Hickman dropped that set 25-7.
"We had it and everything," Brooks said. "The second game, I don't know happened, maybe it was all in the head."
"I think that a lot of girls ... they get down and they spread it. It's like a disease," Brooks said.
Coming off a 25-5, 25-3 loss to Fatima on Friday, Hickman (0-2) was swept for the second time in four days.
"They haven't really gelled yet," coach Greg Gunn said. "It's a new group."
Hickman, a program emerging from a two-win season in 2012, is featuring new members such as Brooks, the team's starting libero who moved to Columbia from St. Joseph-Ogden High School in St. Joseph, Ill. After playing volleyball throughout her previous three years of high school, she came to Hickman as tryouts were starting.
"She was a very pleasant surprise," Gunn said.
Brooks said she is still finding her place among her new teammates.
"I don't trust everyone yet, just because I don't know everyone yet," she said. "But I'm getting there. It'll come to a time when I know everyone."
Echoing Brooks is a freshman playing in the front. Danni Nichols, a 5-foot-9 middle hitter, is playing volleyball after just one year playing as an eighth-grader at Columbia Catholic.
"It's fun. I'm still getting used to it, learning a lot," Nichols said. "It's about getting to know the girls."
Gunn knows that it will take time for the team to build chemistry, but sees promise in their development.
"I think they know that they're young," Gunn said. "I think they know they've got some work to do. I think they know they have potential to be a good team. [You just] keep telling them that and keep encouraging them and reminding them to keep working hard."
Hickman will host Rolla on Thursday at 6 p.m.