Platte County received a rare opportunity and took full advantage.
After dropping the first two sets to Lee’s Summit North, the Pirates were afforded a comeback chance in a five-set match played Monday, Aug. 28 at Platte County High School. Missouri high schools generally play best-of-three, but coaches have started a push to take advantage of the five-set option to match with what the majority of states do.
Platte County overcame the two-set deficit and a big hole in the third set to claim an almost improbable 18-25, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 15-13 victory.
“I think we really found the energy in each other,” said Platte County senior Kenzie Polley, who led the Pirates attack with 16 kills. “We came together and really found energy in each other and picked each other up.”
After dropping the first set, Platte County fought back in the second to force ties at 13, 15, 19 and 20 then scored two straight to take a 22-20 lead. Lee’s Summit North took a timeout after losing the long rally and fighting against momentum.
Out of the stoppage, Lee’s Summit North won five straight points to take a 2-0 lead. Platte County dropped behind 10-1 to start the third set, and the Broncos appeared on the way to an easy sweep.
Instead, Platte County posted one big play after another to forge a memorable comeback.
“There were so many big plays by everyone,” Platte County second-year coach Katlyn Donovan said. “From front row to back row, serving to setting, we had a lot of big plays tonight. After those first two sets, we told the girls, ‘It’s gotta go five. We’re either going to win or lose, but we’ve gotta go five.’
“Super proud of our girls, regardless of the outcome, for the effort they gave.”
Platte County responded with a 9-2 burst, closing within 12-10 on a strong run of service from junior Kinsi Hoegler. The Pirates moved ahead 21-17 after sophomore setter Ashley Bell continued to confound the Lee’s Summit North defense with well-placed serves. Bell, Hoegler and senior Lauren Walker all finished with two service aces.
The lead hit five twice late in the third set, but Platte County needed five set points to close out the win. Polley finished it with one of her 16 kills.
Polley had two more kills in a tight start to the fourth set, and an ace for Bell during a long service run pushed Platte County’s lead to 18-10. Lee’s Summit North answered with five straight to force a Pirates’ timeout, but junior Jaycie Stubbs’ block finished off a seven-point set win ahead of the deciding set played to 15.
“It just seemed like everything was clicking on all cylinders,” Donovan said. “We limited the errors on our side of the net. In the last three sets, we really cleaned it up.”
Lee’s Summit North led 2-0 and 3-1 in the fifth set before a run of five straight, which included kills for Walker and senior PJ Curry, put the Broncos on the brink.
Platte County gave back the 6-3 lead, and the two teams were tied at 6, 9, 10, 11 and 13 before the Pirates scored the final two points to complete the comeback. Walker provided the last of her blocks — a solo effort — to create match point.
“It definitely capped things for us because we worked hard all five sets, and I was happy I could help my team out and put that one down,” said Walker, who finished with a team-high 2½ blocks to go with 10 kills from her middle hitter spot.
This time, Platte County avoided any drama, ending the match on the next point.
The Pirates were balanced during the comeback effort with Polley, Walker and Curry combining for 36 of 46 kills. Carli Hensley, a junior defensive specialist, helped create long rallies with her team-high 34 digs, and the middle defense included Walker (2½ blocks), Stubbs (two blocks), Curry (two blocks) and freshmen Aly Anderson (1½ blocks).
Not one moment stuck out for the players and coaches, but the contributions up and down the lineup made the rare five-set victory that much more memorable.
“We’re exhausted from just watching them play five sets, and we don’t really do a whole lot,” Donovan said. “We just coach from the sidelines. The physical and mental toughness it took those girls to play and win those five sets is awesome to see.”
Staley 2, Platte County 0
The Pirates kept it close in both sets but lost 21-25, 22-25 in their home opener Thursday, Aug. 24 in Platte City.
Platte County recorded just 18 total kills with four apiece for Polley and Curry. The defense managed just one block while Hensley totaled a team-high nine digs. Bell finished with 15 assists.
Liberty 2, Platte County 0
After a slow start, the Pirates nearly forced a third set in a season-opening loss Tuesday, Aug. 22 in Liberty, Mo.
Platte County led in the second set but ended up losing 14-25, 24-26. Donovan said Liberty did a good job disrupting the Pirates’ offense leading to some early struggles.
Polley recorded seven of Platte County’s 20 kills, while junior Harper Sinclair added five in her first match as a full-time varsity player. Bell recorded 17 assists and committed just one ballhandling error in a solid effort.