In what was the first home game of a new era in Saint Mary Volleyball, Wednesday night did not go as the Lady Spires had hoped.

New head coach Sarah Johnson led her squad out onto the Ryan Sports Center floor for the first time and while her team had several quality stretches of play against visiting Ottawa, there were just too many mental miscues and self-inflicted mistakes. Ultimately, the missteps caused USM to fall in straight sets 25-18, 25-11 and 25-18.

"Well unfortunately we beat ourselves tonight," Johnson said. "We broke down in communication. We didn't play as a team and we gave them more points than they earned themselves."

The first set had energy and competitiveness throughout. The squads played neck and neck until it was 16-16, where the Braves began to pull away. A six-point run led to a seven-point victory for the visitors.

For Saint Mary, things unraveled in the second set. Ottawa jumped out to an 8-2 start and never looked back. In the final game, USM got down early 9-2 but battled back to make it 15-13. However, the deficit was too much and the home team lost by seven again.

"The biggest issue was that we didn't play as a team," Johnson said. "The good thing is that we saw where a lot of our weaknesses are so now we can focus on those and get better."

USM, 1-1, will compete in the Avila Tournament Friday starting at 1 p.m.