KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Unmistakable concern showed on Katlyn Donvoan’s face.
With each mounting mistake in the first set of a Class 4 District 16 first round matchup, Platte County’s second-year coach tried to keep her demeanor calm on the sideline at Falcon Fieldhouse on Monday, Oct. 16. Staley took full advantage of the early struggles on the way to a 25-18, 25-19 victory.
Staley also won the regular season meeting between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds in the district, but that came all the way back in late August.
“The first set, we certainly had too many errors,” Donovan said. “Give Staley props. They were aggressive in the front row and kept us out of system a lot. We couldn’t get our offense going.”
Staley opened with a 5-0 lead, and Platte County committed three service errors in the first set alone. The Pirates never led in the opener with a brief 3-0 run started on one of three kills for senior outside hitter PJ Curry briefly closing the deficit to 14-9.
Kenzie Polley, who tied for the team lead with seven kills, put down two straight points for Platte County to make it 23-18 before Staley took the final two points.
“We would do something well and next thing you know somebody hits it in the net or somebody serves it out of bounds,” Donovan said. “I definitely think we beat ourselves.”
Platte County started better in the second set with a 3-1 lead, but Donovan took a timeout with Staley ahead 11-7. The Pirates would five times cut the lead to two before taking another timeout down 19-15.
Out of the second stoppage, Platte County scored three straight, capped with one of seven kills for senior middle hitter Lauren Walker. Staley then took a timeout and went on a 6-1 run to close out the sweep.
“We found the energy that we needed, but again, one error definitely turned our energy from really high to really low. We couldn’t flip it around,” Donovan said.
The rematch with Staley ended much like the first.
Platte County didn’t have a single service ace, and the attack totaled just 21 kills. Carli Hensley, a junior defensive specialist, led the defense with 12 digs, while junior reserve Harper Sinclair had a pair of blocks.
Ashley Bell, a standout sophomore setter for Platte County, provided 17 assists.
Platte County started five seniors — Polley, Walker, Curry and back row players Lily Harrison and Haylie Jerome.
In Donovan’s second season, Platte County went 22-8-3 with a Grain Valley Tournament championship and a second-place finish in the Suburban Conference Blue Division. The Pirates still ended up with the fifth seed in a district featuring six of seven teams with winning records.
Platte County lost in the first round of districts for a second straight season, but the Pirates doubled their win total from 11 a year ago.
“This district was definitely stacked,” Donovan said. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but not many teams can say they won 22 matches in a season, so I’m proud of the girls. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
Park Hill 2, North Kansas City 0
The second-seeded Trojans endured nervy moments in both sets of a 25-22, 25-23 sweep of upset-minded North Kansas City.
Park Hill junior Rachel Pella and senior Kai Welsh recorded six kills apiece to pick up a sluggish offense, but the Trojans needed three match points to avoid the potential of a third set. Pella finished the match with a kill after North Kansas City (5-19-2) — seeded No. 7 out of seven — twice closed within one point late in the second set.
A key kill for freshman Hannah Graves and a service ace for senior defensive specialist Madison Michaelis (team-high 16 digs) gave Park Hill a 24-21 lead before the Trojans nearly went into tiebreaker.
North Kansas City opened the first set with a 3-0 lead, and Park Hill (20-12-3) didn’t lead until a 4-0 run made it 9-7. The Trojans immediately gave up three straight to fall back behind.
Park Hill senior Kayla Huffman (18 assists) provided steady service, while the Trojans served up five total aces. However, they needed a late 3-1 run to close out the first set, which finished on one of junior Sabrina Lane’s five kills.
Lane also added seven digs for Park Hill, which advanced to the district semifinals for a second straight year.
Park Hill was scheduled to play third-seeded Oak Park (18-13-3) on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Falcon Fieldhouse with the winner advancing to the championship match later in the night. Top-seeded Park Hill South and Staley were matched up in the other semifinal.
In the regular season, Park Hill beat both Park Hill South and Oak Park twice.