Peaking at the right time

Platte County volleyball team surging as tough district tourney approaches

Last summer, at the Pittsburg (Kan.) State team camp, Platte County High School volleyball coach Jan Patterson walked into the gym after breakfast and saw her team sprawled out on the floor.

Patterson looked down at the girls and said, “Well good morning my little turtles.” It was one of those moments that teams experience when they spend a lot of time together, working toward a common goal. And this moment stuck: Patterson’s little turtles have taken to occasionally calling her “Mama Turtle.” “Yeah, that was just one of those funny little things she (Patterson) says sometimes,” Platte County senior hitter and three-year starter Bre Post said. “We liked it so much we call her Mama Turtle sometimes — we called her that on Saturday.” Speaking of Saturday, the Lady Pirates took the turtles analogy a step further and burst out of their shells at the 20-team Independence Classic Volleyball Tournament. Platte County put on an impressive showing at the former Truman Invitational by winning six of the eight matches it played and taking second place overall. Platte County’s only losses on the day came to two bigger schools that are always tough. The Lady Pirates lost to Park Hill South 25-13, 25-18 in its second pool play match of the day. Platte County then won five straight matches before falling to Lee’s Summit West, 24-26, 25-13, 25-16. Its six victories on the day included Staley, O’Hara and Liberty, which the Lady Pirates lost to earlier in the year. With the strong showing, Platte County upped its record to 28-5, which is one win away from the school record 29 wins set in 2008. Patterson said the tournament was just what her squad needed to get it ready for what looks like a brutal Class 4 District 16 Tournament Oct. 28-30 at Liberty North High School. Platte County drew the fourth seed and will play Park Hill in the first round Monday night; Liberty is No. 1, Kearney is No. 2 and Staley, No. 3. “During the district seeding meeting, I told the other coaches that I knew they played a little tougher schedule than us, but then I told them I thought we were playing really well right now,” Patterson said. “I think we showed it at Independence. We had tough matches all day against some of the best teams in the KC metro area. I think we showed that we can play with these excellent teams.” Of Platte County’s losses, three are to teams in their district: two to nemesis Kearney and one to Liberty, which, of course, the Lady Pirates avenged last weekend. Post, one of two seniors on the team along with defensive specialist Morgan Schomburg, said the Lady Pirates now know they can compete with anybody they step on the court with. “At first last weekend, we were kind of looking up to some teams, but then we realized we are a good team and can play with anybody, no matter who it is,” Post said. Patterson said her team, which includes seven letter winners from a team that won 16 matches in 2012, has worked hard and done everything she and her coaches have asked them to do. Patterson also said the Lady Pirates have two more traits that make them competitive.