The season for the Lakeland Union High School volleyball team officially began at the Wausau West Quad on Tuesday against Wausau West, Auburndale and Marathon.

The T-Birds lost all three matches. Auburndale swept Lakeland in three sets, 20-25, 19-25, 10-25. Lakeland managed to take one set from both Marathon (16-25, 25-27, 25-23) and Wausau West (10-25, 16-25, 25-13).

T-Bird volleyball coach Carley Punzel said the goal and focus for her team was to continue to work together no matter what position she gave them.

"Although we did lose most of the games, I was proud of the way my girls handled any given situation," Punzel said.

Because this was the first competition of the season, Punzel said they used the quad as a big practice to get ready for the season.

"This quad invite is always a good one to start the season out as these teams have always been good, solid teams," she said. "They play that faster level of play that I am wanting my girls to get used to. Playing these teams shows the girls that it is possible because we have times last night that the pace was faster."

Punzel said the T-Birds are a fundamentally sound team and they just need to refine their skills to perform at a faster pace.

"The girls know that I will put the hardest six girls out on the court," she said. "They have to prove it to me every day at practice in order to continue to get better as a whole."

Of course, there is always room for improvement, and after Tuesday, the girls know what they need to do to be more successful, Punzel said.

"We took last night had a great learning experience and will continue to do so when we continue to play high level competition this weekend," Punzel said. "Lots of games ahead of us this weekend and the girls could not be more excited (and of course the coaches, too)."

The T-Birds will play again in a 40-team invitational at the UW-Stout Johnson Fieldhouse in Menomonie today and tomorrow, Aug. 24 and 25.

Grace Zaplatynsky may be reached via email at