RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill first met up with an old rival and must prepare for a much more familiar opponent.
In the opening round of Class 4 District 16 play, the Trojans swept former Suburban Conference Red Division opponent St. Joseph Central 25-23, 25-15 on Monday, Oct. 17 at Park Hill South High School. The second seed advances to play Staley for the fourth time this season with Park Hill the winner in each of the first three.
The semifinal is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
“We’re trying to get an idea of what we’re up against, and I think we have a good chance,” said Park Hill senior Chelsea Edwards, who led the defense with 12 digs. “But we never want to overestimate anything but we’re just going to come out and play the best ball we can.”
Park Hill (19-12-3) jumped to an early lead against the No. 7 seed.
However, Central rallied to close within 24-23 in the opening set, putting the Trojans in danger of putting the upset bid in play. The two teams had not played this season after Park Hill moved up to the Gold Division tier and away from the annual scheduled meetings between the two teams.
Park Hill closed out the opening set win, despite the collection of errors that nearly fueled Central’s comeback.
“We didn’t know what to expect out of St. Joe Central. I think they played a really great game,” Park Hill coach Lindsey Hood said. “That was the most errors we have had this season. We haven’t made that many mistakes so we just talked about minimizing our errors while still playing it safe and trying to figure out a way to make us feel successful on our side.”
Park Hill looked better in the second set with junior Kai Welsh leading the attack. She recorded 10 kills on just 19 attempts, committing only one attack error. Overall, the Trojans posted 33 kills with junior setter Kayla Huffman assisting on 23 of them.
Central allowed only two service aces, forcing the match into longer rallies. In addition to Edwards, juniors Madison Michaelis and Lexi Renau both finished in double figures for digs with 11 apiece.
“It was just mainly a lack of communication was our problem,” Edwards said of the first-set struggles. “I think we just found the intensity and the confidence to finish strong.”
Park Hill and Staley’s matchup follows the other semifinal between top seed Park Hill South, which received a first-round bye, and Oak Park. The championship match between the two winners will be played after the semifinals with a tentative scheduled start time of 8 p.m.
Park Hill South has been to a district championship match in at least nine straight seasons and seeks its first playoff appearance since 2013. Park Hill has not played for a district championship in at least nine seasons.
Staley 2, Platte County 0
The Pirates season came to end with a first-round loss to third-seeded Staley on Monday, Oct. 17 at Park Hill South High School in Riverside, Mo.
A slow start doomed No. 6 seed Platte County (11-16-3), and Staley finished with 20 kills and took advantage of 17 attack errors from the Pirates in a 25-10, 25-15 victory.
The Falcons swept both matchups between the teams this season, but Platte County hoped to have a better showing from the previous loss back in late August.
“Although this was not the outcome we wanted, I was proud of the ladies for fighting back after the first set,” Platte County first-year coach Katlyn Donovan said. “Staley did a good job of keeping us out of system and serving aggressive, and we had a difficult time matching that.”
Four of Platte County’s six seniors played in their final match, but sophomore Harper Sinclair (five kills) and junior Kenzie Polley (four kills) led an inconsistent attack. The Pirates had just 13 total kills to go with Rachel Noll’s lone service ace.
Ashely Bell, a freshman, finished with 13 assists after developing into a versatile threat late in a very up-and-down season for Platte County, which lost six of its final seven but also finished second in the Suburban Conference Blue Division standings.
Staley’s fast start proved too much too much to overcome.
“The first set we definitely could have done better, we weren’t playing to our fullest potential,” Platte County senior Hannah Kunels said. “We fought really hard in the second set but we just came up short because we didn’t get going fast enough.”
Platte County 2, Belton 1
Minus three starters due to illness, Platte County came back from second set disappointment to close Blue Division play with a 25-12, 28-30, 25-17 victory. Belton swept the previous meeting between the two teams.
With Polley, Kunels and Noll missing, Platte County dominated the opening set Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Platte County High School but couldn’t close out a sweep in the tight second. Sinclair (10 kills) and PJ Curry (seven kills) stepped into starting roles with career-best performances.
Bell provided 26 assists with Lauren Walker also contributing nine kills.
“To get this win tonight, we had to move some players around and players needed to step up and we had that happen,” Donovan said. “We played like we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Beating Belton was a huge conference win for us and it was great to see all the players step up and get the victory.”
Platte County went 7-3 in Blue Division play, finishing behind Kearney (8-2) and tied with Winnetonka for second. Both of Kearney’s conference losses came against Platte County, which lost twice to Winnetonka and once to Belton (6-4).
Lee’s Summit West 2, Platte County 0
The Pirates lost to the Titans for the second time in a week, playing on senior night Thursday, Oct. 13 at Platte County High School.
After meeting up in bracket play of the Truman Tournament the previous weekend, the two teams faced off again in a nonconference matchup to finish the regular season. Alex Huntley (five kills) and Polley (four kills) led the offense, while Carli Hensley provided 10 kills on defense.
Huntley, Kunels, Noll, Bailey Harris, Marissa Iden and Haley Williams were Platte County’s six seniors this season.
Park Hill South 2, Truman 0
The Panthers closed out the regular season by completing an unbeaten run through the Suburban Conference Red Division, not losing a set in 10 wins.
Allison Sadler provided 23 assists and seven kills in Park Hill South’s sweep Tuesday, Oct. 11 in Truman, Mo., while setting up Andi Elley for 11 kills and Bri Bartosh with nine more. Bartosh also led the defense with 11 kills while Emily Day added 10.
Park Hill South entered the postseason unbeaten in 14 straight, going 13-0-1 in that span.
Blue Springs South 2, Park Hill 0
The Trojans closed the regular season with a third consecutive loss Thursday, Oct. 13 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. They were 5-7 in Suburban Conference Gold Division play on the season.
Chelsea Edwards, Kai Welsh and Rachel Pella had four kills apiece in a limited offensive showing for Park Hill.
Blue Springs 2, Park Hill 1
The Trojans won the second set but couldn’t complete the comeback Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Welsh led the offense with 11 kills out of 29 total for Park Hill, and Huffman provided four service aces. Renau and Michaelis led four players in double figures ford digs with 16 apiece.