Being the second-ranked team in the state in the preseason brings expectations.
However, the Wauwatosa East boys volleyball team found out it still has plenty of work left to do to get to where it wants to go after an early exit at the Kettle Moraine Invitational on Sept. 3.
"We were hoping to play a lot better today against the better teams, and we didn't," Wauwatosa East coach John Simon said. "Some things were exposed for us. We have some players playing new positions. That's going to take some time, and I understand that.
"I was hoping we were a little further along. I thought we were, but evidently, we have some work to do."
The Red Raiders advanced to the championship bracket of the tournament by beating Franklin (25-18, 25-15) and West Allis Hale (25-14, 25-21) and splitting with Catholic Memorial (14-25, 25-22) in pool play.
Wauwatosa East easily grabbed the first set of its first-round match with Arrowhead, but the Warhawks stormed back with a win in the second set and sent the Red Raiders home with a 15-13 win in the decisive third set.
"We blew them away in the first game," Simon said. "Then we made 15 errors in game two, and they won game two because we had so many errors. Then game three became a battle that was back and forth, and we ended up on the short end."
The tournament featured seven of the eight teams that made the state tournament in 2015 and four other sectional finalists. Perennial powerhouse Marquette won the invite over defending state champion Kaukauna.
While disappointed in the result, playing top competition early allows Wauwatosa East to find areas it must improve in going forward.
Wauwatosa East will face another loaded field in the New Berlin United Invite on Sept. 10.
The Red Raiders are coming off winning a share of the Greater Metro Conference championship with Marquette and Brookfield East and a berth in the sectional finals. First-team all-conference player Aaron Plaisted returns, as does second-team selection Joe Marx and honorable mention Eric Winter.
"I want to play the best teams because that's the only way we are going to get better," Simon said. "Maybe at this point, one week in, we aren't as good as we thought we were. But hopefully after some work and some time we can get to where we want to be."