Platte County volleyball clutch in 3 sets again, still hopes for league title

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County outside hitter Kenzie Polley (10) hits a spike against Kearney on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Platte County High School. Platte County won the match in three sets to tie Kearney for the Suburban Conference Blue Division lead. Platte County developed a penchant for excelling in its tightest matches this season.

The latest three-set victory for the Pirates went a long way toward earning a share of a second straight Suburban Conference Blue Division title. Platte County won the final two sets to score a 23-25, 25-14, 25-18 comeback win against Kearney on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Platte County High School, providing a season split with the Bulldogs. The Pirates lost in three sets during the previous meeting but also won twice in three sets against Winnetonka this season in league play.

Platte County and Kearney now have matching 7-1 league records with two games remaining, including one for Kearney against Winnetonka.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County senior Kenedy Knox, right, tips the ball over the net in a match against Kearney on Thursday, Oct. 8 at Platte County High School.

“Our girls really like to play these tight games,” Platte County first-year coach Shelby Hoffman said. “They fought. They battled. They played as a team; they played as one team. It makes me a little nervous, but I have confidence in my girls, so long as they are bettering the ball and the position they can do anything.”

In the pivotal third set, Platte County built a lead of 11-5 with senior Kenedy Knox on service and that expanded to 14-6 before the Pirates ceded momentum to the visitors in front of a sizeable home crowd. The Bulldogs closed to within 17-16, but after a timeout from Hoffman the Pirates went on an 8-2 run to close out the match, taking the third set 25-18.

“It was really nerve-racking,” said Platte County senior Madysen Fine, who finished with a team-high 15 assists and 11 kills. “Coach called a timeout and she was like, ‘You know what, guys? This is your game. You need to finish this. We already went two games.’ We all came together and said, ‘We got this, we’re going to win.’”

Platte County led the first set 14-9 before a strong finish from Kearney. The Pirates fought off one set point at 22-24 but could not complete the comeback. They mostly rolled from there behind another balanced attack.

Platte County ripped its way to a 25-14 win in the second set after dropping the opener.

Fine helped Knox rack up a team-high 13 kills, while Knox added nine assists and sophomore Kenzie Polley supplied nine kills. On the defensive side, Hannah Kunels led Platte County with three blocks while Alex Huntley added two. The digs were evenly divided between four players: Mikayla Wheeler (15), Rylie Collins (14), Knox (13) and Carli Hensley (12).

Platte County closes its regular season with away matches at Grandview (Oct. 13) and Belton (Oct. 15) with two wins guaranteeing a share of league title with the potential to win outright with a Kearney loss.

“Now is the time to bring the heat,” Hoffman said. “We have districts coming up; we have two more games (this) week then districts the following week. So long as they bring it at the end I think it’s awesome.”

District play begins on Monday, Oct. 19 for Platte County at Park Hill High School. The Pirates earned the No. 3 seed in the Class 4 District 16 tournament. Platte County will face the No. 6 seed St. Joseph Central at 7:30 p.m. The Pirates took the only regular season in straight sets on Sept. 10.

The winner will face the winner of the Oak Park/Liberty North match in the semifinals on Wednesday, Oct. 21. The championship match immediately follows the semifinals.

Truman Tournament

Platte County went 0-2-1 in bracket play Saturday, Oct. 10 in Independence, Mo. before losing a rematch in the first round of bracket play.

Lee’s Summit West beat the Pirates 25-18, 30-28 to advance after the Titans had been swept by them late last month. Platte County dropped to 14-12-2 with the results in one of the toughest tournaments in the area.

Collins provided a team-high 40 digs in the four matches to go with seven aces and 20 service points, while Fine (27 assists) and Knox (22 kills, 14 assists led the offense.