RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Facing the possibility of a third set, Park Hill South decided to regroup — and fast.
The message ended up being simple and resonated when the Panthers’ quick comeback finished off a 25-11, 25-22 sweep of rival Park Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at Park Hill South High School. Moments earlier, the Trojans appeared on the brink of forcing a third set only to see their advantage erased, and Park Hill South stayed unbeaten and avoided the upset bid.
“We just talked about going back to basics,” Park Hill South coach Karen McConnell said. “You can’t forget our basic skills. That’s what go us to the level we’re at, and you have to go back to that and build from that. I think sometimes we try to get too fancy instead of sticking to the basics.”
In the only scheduled matchup of the season, Park Hill South again asserted its dominance as one of the top teams in the Kansas City metro area, while Park Hill showed the flashes of a talented team with pieces in place to build for the future.
The Trojans actually led in both sets but were outscored 18-3 to finish out the opener and appeared out of sorts.
Instead, momentum built for Park Hill, and a kill from senior Chelsea Edwards followed with a block gave the Trojans an 18-13 lead and prompted a timeout from McConnell. The remainder of the set featured long rallies, but Park Hill South’s depth and experience showed with senior all-state outside hitter Andi Elley turning in her best performance of the season.
“I think our offense is off to a really good start,” McConnell said. “As you can tell, Andi had a very good night tonight in general, and I think eventually stats will probably balance out a little more, but her first and primary thing for us is to pass and play defense.”
With Elley slated to play libero in college, McConnell moved her from top hitting option this season to allow her more defensive chances.
However, Elley showed up in the second set vs. Park Hill to take control and close out the win. One of her match-high 11 kills closed the gap to 20-18, and the Trojans followed with an error. Annika Welty, a junior middle hitter, followed with one of her eight kills to tie the score at 20.
Park Hill South wouldn’t trail again.
Emily Day’s ace gave them a lead at 21-20, and Bri Bartosh finished an attack moments later to give the Panthers another one-point lead. Elley’s kill set up match point, and Park Hill’s attack error after a short rally closed out the match.
“Our senior leadership helped keep that lead (in the second set). We just made some mistakes that weren’t ideal,” Park Hill coach Lindsey Hood said. “Each week the girls keep showing glimmers of hope.”
The tense finish featured several long rallies, and Day finished with 15 digs. Park Hill South senior setter Allison Sadler notched 21 assists and nine digs, while Elley also aided the defense with eight digs.
Tyah Barnett, one of three seniors for Park Hill, notched six kills, while Edwards (11 digs) and junior Madison Michaelis (nine digs) led the defense. Offensive chances were limited for the Trojans, but sophomores Honor Foutch and Rachel Pella and junior Kai Welsh have shown flashes this season of becoming dangerous options at the net.
Park Hill went 3-2 but only played four matches in the 42nd annual tournament held Saturday, Sept. 10 at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo.
After taking a pool play opener by forfeit, the Trojans split two matches, won a bracket match and finished with a loss to St. Pius X. They scored sweeps of Northland Christian and Staley on the day.
Pella put up impressive numbers in the four matches with totals of 18 kills and 10 service aces, including seven in a sweep of Northland Christian. She also added three blocks, finishing one behind Foutch and Welsh for the team lead.
Welsh led Park Hill with 23, including eight in the loss to St. Pius X to close the tournament. Huffman put up 52 assists and had at least nine in all four matches.
Platte County ended up with just one win but only two losses in its five matches. The Pirates went 0-1-2 in pool play, splitting with both Liberty North and Raymore-Peculiar, before topping Lincoln Prep in a dominant showing and losing to Northland Christian in the finale of bracket play.
Bailey Harris turned in nine aces total, four against Liberty North, and a team-high 24 assists in five matches. Ashley Bell ended up with 20 assists.
Kenzie Polley and Alex Huntley led Platte County in kills in two matches each with Polley turning in a tournament-high 10 in the 25-12, 25-6 win against Lincoln Prep. Carli Hensley topped the Pirates for digs in three matches with nine against Liberty North and again in the 25-15, 25-21 loss to Northland Christian.
Park Hill 2, Raymore-Peculiar 0
The Trojans swept a Gold Division matchup Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. behind a solid defensive performance.
Overall, Park Hill recorded 47 digs, including 12 for Edwards, 11 for Michaelis and eight apiece for Huffman and Barnett. The Trojans won 25-22, 25-18, and Welsh and Foutch had five kills apiece.
Park Hill South 2, Lee’s Summit 0
The Panthers were 9-0 overall after this win Monday, Sept. 12 in Lee’s Summit, Mo. and were scheduled to continue Suburban Conference Red Division play Tuesday, Sept. 13 against Liberty. The result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Sadler finished with four blocks, seven digs and 17 assists — all team-highs. Day also finished with seven digs. Welty put up 11 kills.
Park Hill South 2, Raytown 0
The Panthers dominated their new Red Division foe 25-14, 25-13 in a matchup Thursday, Sept. 8 in Raytown, Mo.
Elley continued her strong play off the win against Park Hill with nine kills, while Welty added seven. Day and Elley recorded two aces apiece in the sweep.
Platte County 2, Kearney 0
The Pirates won another Blue Division matchup Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Platte County High School with a good showing against a big rival.
The scores were 25-22, 25-20 in the sweep with Huntley and Polley putting up six kills apiece, while Bell (10) and Harris (eight) nearly split up the assists evenly. Rachel Noll, Harris and Bell had one ace apiece.
“I am very proud of how we played against Kearney,” Platte County coach Katlyn Donovan said. “I believe that is the best volleyball I have seen our girls play so far this season. Our energy was high. Our communication was great, and we were a very scrappy team, which was awesome to see from a coaching standpoint.”
Platte County 2, Grandview 0
The Pirates made it two straight Blue Division wins with a 25-13, 25-11 sweep in Grandview, Mo. Bell and Hensey served up two aces apiece, while Harris notched 14 assists. Polley (eight kills) and Huntley (six kills) topped the offense, while Hannah Kunels recorded two solo blocks.