RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South received a big boost, perhaps sooner than expected.
After missing only a handful of matches, Panthers senior attacker Bri Bartosh returned to action Thursday, Sept. 29 in a sweep of Blue Springs. She recorded a team-high 12 kills on 24 attempts in the 25-20, 25-22 victory at Park Hill South High School despite still attempting to nurse along an injured ankle.
Bartosh came up injured during the LSN Bronco Invitational less than two weeks earlier, a trip that included Park Hill South’s only loss so far this season. The Panthers won three straight after the defeat against Pleasant Hill with one of their three top attackers sidelined.
“It’s really sore, but I’m just glad it’s stable,” Bartosh said of the injury. “I just got out of the boot two days ago, and I’ve been easing back into practice and playing.”
Park Hill South’s versatility showed with Bartosh on the sideline.
Andi Elley, another senior, shifted back into more of her attacking role to help pick up the slack, while Michelle Dvorak and Kacy Lewallen — a pair of sophomores — received more court time. All three wins with Bartosh out or limited were sweeps, and the Panthers have 13 of those in a 20-1 start to the season.
Bartosh’s return looked seamless with senior setter Allison Sadler dishing out 23 assists. Elley (eight kills) and junior middle hitter Annika Welty (seven kills) were right behind Bartosh in the attack.
“Bri back helps me a lot just with the strong force on that side,” Sadler said. “Her injury was a little detrimental to the team, but everybody else picked it up. But having her back definitely helps a lot.”
Blue Springs represented the biggest test for Park Hill South minus Bartosh.
The nonconference matchup provided a good gauge for the postseason with the Panthers seeking a playoff return after coming up short the past two years. Bartosh, Elley and Sadler helped them to a breakout season a year ago that ended with a three-set loss to St. Teresa’s Academy in the Class 4 District 15 final — the second straight runner-up showing for Park Hill South.
In 2013, Park Hill South advanced to the Class 4 state semifinals and finished as runner-up with the current senior class coming in the next season to lead the rebuilding effort.
“My assistants and I have talked about the postseason, but we haven’t really talked too much about it with the kids,” Park Hill South coach Karen McConnell said. “We figured we’d wait till after the Truman Tournament to really focus in on that. We just really want to get through our conference first then the Truman Tournament healthy then we’ll start talking about the postseason.”
The loss to Pleasant Hill ended an unbeaten start, but Park Hill South remains focused on closing the regular season with more positives.
Entering a Tuesday, Oct. 4 matchup with Raytown, the Panthers held a 7-0 record in Suburban Conference Red Division play, seeking a second straight league crown. They travel to the Truman Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 8 with a chance to win a tournament title ahead of the start of Class 4 District 15 play in a couple of weeks.
“Our season is going really well,” Sadler said. “That one (loss) kind of hurts us, saying 20-1, but we’re definitely not done yet and we’re trying to get to state so hopefully it will be more than 20.”
The result of the match with Raytown was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
Park Hill South 2, St. Joseph Central 0
Welty up 12 kills in just 14 attack attempts in a Red Division sweep Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo. Elley added nine kills while Bartosh made her initial return from the ankle injury with three kills.
The strong net play allowed Sadler to dish out 27 assists.
Park Hill 2, Raymore-Peculiar 0
The Trojans improved their Suburban Conference Gold Division winning streak to three Thursday, Sept. 29 in Raymore, Mo.
Kai Welsh (12 kills) and Rachel Pella (eight kills) again led the way in a 25-23, 25-17 sweep. Kayla Huffman and Madison Michaelis topped four players in double figures for digs with 14 apiece.
The win pushed Park Hill to 13-8-2 overall and 5-4 in the Gold Division. The Trojans were scheduled for a nonconference matchup Tuesday, Oct. 4 against Liberty North, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.
The final three games of the regular season, outside of tournament play, will all be in Gold Division play.
Park Hill 2, Lee’s Summit West 1
The Trojans avenged a previous loss to win a second straight Gold Division match.
Having lost to Lee’s Summit West the first time around, Park Hill won the final two sets in a 23-25, 25-18, 25-21 win Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. The Trojans played well at the net with Welsh supplying 16 of their 42 kills, while Pella and Honor Foutch recorded five blocks apiece.
Park Hill had 12 blocks total.
The defense stayed busy to limit Lee’s Summit West’s successful attacks. Madison Michaelis led four players in double figures for digs with 22. Chelsea Edwards (18), Courtney Bearce (12) and Lexi Renau (11) followed Michaelis on the stat sheet.