Platte County's pool win over Park Hill propels Pirates to title match

A big win in pool play propelled Platte County into the finals of its home tournament.

Park Hill’s loss forced the Trojans onto the same side of the bracket as defending Class 1 champion Northland Christian. Platte County advanced unscathed on the other side before finishing as runner-up to Northland Christian in the Platte County Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Platte County High School.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Platte County freshman Aly Anderson (center) goes up for a spike in a pool play match with Park Hill on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Platte County High School. 

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Platte County freshman Aly Anderson (center) goes up for a spike in a pool play match with Park Hill on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Platte County High School. 

Platte County improved to 11-5-2 overall with a 5-1 showing on the day, continuing a recent run of success.

 “Even though we are playing some of our best ball right now, we can’t settle for what we have done so far,” Platte County coach Katlyn Donovan said. “Our confidence right now is at an all-time high, and we have been playing some tough competition and playing well against them so we know that we can play with some of the best teams around.”

Platte County’s run to the final included five straight sweeps — three in pool play and then over Belton and Summit Christian in the bracket. None were bigger than the 25-21, 26-24 triumph over Park Hill, a Class 4 District 16 opponent.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Park Hill senior Kayla Huffman (3) sets up Kristen Birmingham (right) for an attack.

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Park Hill senior Kayla Huffman (3) sets up Kristen Birmingham (right) for an attack.

Kenzie Polley, a senior, headed an efficient offensive attack for Platte County in the matchup with nine kills, while sophomore setter Ashley Bell provided 20 assists. Carli Hensley, a junior, helped limit Park Hill’s attack, providing 18 digs.

Platte County senior Lily Harrison added nine digs.

Park Hill’s offense was balanced, but the Trojans also committed eight attacking errors. Rachel Pella — a junior — and Kai Welsh — a senior — had six kills apiece.

Sabrina Lane, a junior, provided four of Park Hill’s nine service aces.

Park Hill continued to struggle with inconsistency, despite coming back for a win over Summit Christian in the third-place match behind eight service aces (three for Pella) and solid defense (16 digs for junior Kori Smith). The Trojans sit at 12-7-1 with a mixed bag of quality wins and frustrating losses.

In pool play, Park Hill had sweeps of Smithville (seven kills, six aces for Pella) and William Chrisman (10 kills for Welsh, 17 assists for senior Kayla Huffman) before losing two of the final three on the day.

 NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo Platte County sophomore Ashley Bell (5) hits a set for senior Lauren Walker (front).

NICK INGRAM/Citizen photo
Platte County sophomore Ashley Bell (5) hits a set for senior Lauren Walker (front).

“Our game plan is always to focus on ourselves and adjust with the game,” Park Hill coach Lindsey Hood said. “As a staff, we’ve learned when we start overwhelming the girls with everything the other team does, we tend to lose what we do well. And there will be adjustments we’ll make as the game goes, but their focus is on what they need to do to be successful.”

Northland Christian won the title with a 25-17, 25-16 victory in the championship match.

Aly Anderson, a freshman, led Platte County’s limited attack with six kills. In the semifinal win over Summit Christian, Polley topped the Pirates’ attack with 11 kills, while Bell provided three of six service aces to go with 20 assists.

Hensley had 21 digs.

Polley also had 11 kills in the first round bracket win over Belton, and Hensley had three service aces in that matchup. The Pirates were most balanced on offense in a pool play win over Smithville with Polley and senior Lauren Walker contributing six kills apiece, and Bell adding four from her setter spot plus 17 assists.

OTHER MATCHES

Platte County 2, Belton 0

In a Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup, Platte County dominated both sets Thursday, Sept. 14 at Platte County High School.

PJ Curry finished with six of 19 kills for Platte County, which feasted on errors from Belton. Kinsi Hoegler served up three of Platte County’s nine aces in the win while Hensley (11 digs) and Bell (16 assists) were strong in ballhandling.

Park Hill 2, Blue Springs 1

The Trojans overcame a disappointing first set to win a second straight in Suburban Conference Gold Division play.

Blue Springs won the opening set 31-29 on Thursday, Sept. 14 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo., but Park Hill came back to force a third set and ended up with the eventful 29-31, 25-23, 25-20 win. The Trojans were again spread out on offense with six players contributing at least five kills — Huffman (10), Pella (eight), Welsh (eight), Lane (seven), freshman Kristen Birmingham (seven) and freshman Aile Aiono (five).

Lane added four aces for Park Hill, while Pella (11 blocks) and Welsh (nine blocks) led the defense at the net. Huffman also provided 28 assists, and Trojans senior Madison Michaelis led four players in double figures for digs with 23.

Park Hill improved to 2-3 in Gold Division play after a winless start to the conference season. The Trojans were scheduled to play Blue Springs South on Tuesday, Sept. 19, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline.

Park Hill 2, Lee’s Summit North 1

The Trojans rallied to win the final two sets Tuesday, Sept. 12 in Lee’s Summit, Mo., ending a Suburban Conference Gold Division skid.

Lane served up three of Park Hill’s eight aces in a 22-25, 25-23, 25-19 win, including one on match point. Welsh (nine kills), Birmingham (eight kills), Pella (five kills) and Lane (four kills) led a balanced offense after a slow start.

Huffman finished with 16 assists and three blocks, while Michaelis totaled a match-high 27 digs to lead the defense.