The Titans survived a pair of set points in the opener and then used a lengthy dominant stretch in the second to claim a 26-24, 25-16 victory at Park Hill South High School. After reaching the Class 4 Missouri State Volleyball Championships semifinals in 2013, Park Hill South continues to rebuild behind a strong sophomore class, but this loss ahead of the extremely competitive Independence Classic provided another obstacle for talented players still short on experience.
Park Hill South went 7-1-1 in a 2½-week stretch prior to the loss vs. Lee’s Summit West.
“Our inexperience catches us in the big games sometimes,” Park Hill South coach Karen McConnel said. “Those young kids that are playing now, the positive thing is they’re gaining experience with every big game they have to play in.”
Park Hill South went 4-1-1 in Truman High School’s tournament Oct. 11 in Independence, Mo., splitting with Blue Springs South in pool play before losing to Liberty in the semifinals. Liberty went on to remain undefeated and win the championship.
Overall, Park Hill South was at 16-9-3 entering Tuesday’s road date at Liberty, which had already beaten the Panthers twice this year.
Lee’s Summit West — ranked third in the most recent Class 4 Missouri High School Volleyball Coaches Association rankings — provided a good prelude to Park Hill South’s final regular season tournament of the year.
Behind a strong block, Park Hill South led by as many as six in the opening set, including a 14-8 advantage. Lee’s Summit West responded with eight unanswered behind the service of Kailin Cordes. There were ties at 16, 17, 19 and 22, and Park Hill South ultimately took a 24-22 lead.
Lee’s Summit West scored the first set’s final four points to take the 1-0 lead.
Early in the second, Park Hill South scored four unanswered to go ahead 6-2, but Lee’s Summit West took over complete control from there. The Titans responded with seven straight points and then expanded their lead to 17-7 with a 15-1 run.
“We want it so bad that sometimes we can’t regroup from that,” McConnel said. “They’re so hard on themselves that sometimes they get overcome with what they did wrong instead of what they can contribute.”
Senior standout Carlisa May led Lee’s Summit West with team-highs of 13 digs, 11 kills and two service aces.
Park Hill South totaled six blocks including two apiece for Jordan Hammond and Kayla Wainwright, who also tied for the team-high of three kills with Bri Bartosh. Panthers junior Alex Rothers recorded six assists and five digs.
Independence Classic Platte County improved to 28-2-2 on the season but finished as runner-up in Oct. 11’s highly competitive tournament at Truman High School. Both losses for the Pirates this season have come against Liberty — undefeated, ranked No. 1 in Class 4 according to the Missouri High School Volleyball Coaches Association and the likely No. 1 seed in the upcoming District 15 tournament.
In a stacked field, Platte County went 2-0-1 with a draw against the hosts to take first in its pool before handling Fort Osage in the first-round of bracket play. The Pirates needed three sets to beat Blue Springs South and Lee’s Summit in the quarterfinals and semifinals, setting up a rematch with Liberty, which prevailed in straight sets in the previous matchup.
Liberty again won in two but survived a tough second set to prevail 25-18, 25-23.
Down 13-6, strong service from Teryn Scott (team-high four aces on the day) and attack from Maren Mair helped Platte County close within 13-12. The Pirates never led but stayed within two points the rest of the way.
Mair finished with nine kills and four blocks in the loss to Liberty, while Scott added eight service points and 19 digs.
“I was pleased with the way our team never gave up and fought until the end,” Platte County coach Jan Patterson said. “There were several times that the girls could have chosen to let up, but each person did their job. Even though we lost in the final match against Liberty, we finished strong and working together.”
Mair recorded team-highs of 56 kills and 22 blocks total in the seven matches, and Melissa Ditter (41), Kenedy Knox (32), Riley Stephens (27) and Maggie Palmer (16) also finished in double digits. Knox added a team-high 83 assists, while Mickey Trimble had 64 service points and 72 assists.
Scott led Platte County with 95 digs and an 86 percent success rate.
Park Hill went 0-3-1, drawing Oak Park in pool play but ultimately ousted against Liberty in the first-round of the bracket portion. Trojans junior Sabrina Corley, the team leader in attacking with 102 kills, managed only six in four matches — none against Liberty.
Tyah Barnett led the way with 12, and Gabby Sweeney added 11 for Park Hill, now 9-17-2 overall. Trojans senior standout Olivia Nowakowski notched 60 digs, five kills and three aces.
North Platte went 5-1, recovering from a pool play loss to Mound City to claim the championship in Elwood, Kan.
Now 25-7 on the season, North Platte lost 14-25, 25-20, 25-22 to Mound City in its third match despite 11 kills for Katie Heese. North Platte won its next three in straight sets vs. Trenton, Troy (Kan.) and St. Joseph Christian to take the title.
In the championship match, Katelin Dillee recorded 15 of her 102 assists, and Heese wound up with 51 total kills. Baylie Wilson recorded a team-high six against the Lions in the championship.
Maddie Lee finished with 68 digs in six matches.
West Platte 2, Lawson 1
The Bluejays improved to 14-12 with a three-set win at Lawson on Oct. 9, setting up a battle for the KCI Conference championship against North Platte on Oct. 14. Results weren’t available at The Citizen’s deadline. North Platte won the previous two matchups between the rivals this season.
Lawson suffered its first KCI loss of the season after West Platte’s Sadie Kelman reeled off 13 consecutive service points in the decisive set. Jordan Schultz recorded a team-high 10 kills, and senior Olivia Elder added six blocks.
Elder and four other seniors played their final regular season home match two days earlier in a two-set win against Hamilton, which doubled as “Dig the Pink Night” in support of breast cancer awareness.
West Platte hosts the five-team Class 1 District 15 tournament starting on Oct. 20. The Bluejays have the No. 3 seed and will play North Platte for the fourth time. The winner advances to play either top-seed Kansas City Lutheran or the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchup of Orrick and St. Joseph Christian.