Having lost three straight entering the Platte County Invitational, Park Hill didn’t seem a likely candidate to make a tournament run.
However, the Trojans have put up consistently strong showings this year with a good mixture of experienced leadership and promising youth. They went unbeaten in six matches Saturday, Sept. 17 at Platte County High School, surviving three sets in a semifinal with Grain Valley before sweeping Belton for the title.
“It’s been a long time since we have been in a tournament championship, let alone winning the tournament,” Park Hill coach Lindsey Hood said. “The coaching staff, we talk about how we can measure success after each game win or lose, but it’s great for them to measure with a championship.”
Park Hill only won once in three two-set pool play matches, including splits with Platte County and Northland Christian.
Tyah Barnett, a senior, led the Trojans with seven kills in a 2-0 sweep of William Chrisman to start the day, while junior Kai Welsh started her big day with nine kills in the split with Northland Christian, a Class 1 powerhouse who took the opening set before dropping the second to Park Hill in a tight matchup.
Park Hill senior Chelsea Edwards (19 digs), junior Madison Michaelis (17 digs) and Barnett (10 digs) led the defense in a second straight tournament meeting between the two teams.
Welsh and sophomore Rachel Pella — six kills apiece — helped Park Hill to a 25-12 opening-set win against Platte County before the Pirates came back to win the second 25-23. The Trojans’ service game took over in a sweep of Smithville with junior Kayla Huffman hitting five of 11 aces and Courtney Bearce adding three.
The only other set loss on the day came against Grain Valley, which survived the middle set in what turned into a 25-20, 24-26, 25-16 win for Park Hill. Welsh and Pella had nine kills apiece, while the Trojans also collected seven blocks as a team — four for Pella.
In the final, Park Hill pulled away for a 25-23, 25-15 sweep behind seven kills apiece for Edwards and Pella. The Trojans also had five aces, bringing their total in six matches to 30.
Platte County ended up 1-1-1 in three pool play matches before losing in three sets to Belton, which had had swept the battle of Pirates in Suburban Conference Blue Division play two days earlier.
After a loss to Northland Christian, Platte County came back to split with Park Hill before sweeping William Chrisman behind a balanced offense. Bailey Harris and Ashley Bell provided seven assists apiece, while nine players posted at least one kill, including a team-high four each for Harris and junior Kenzie Polley.
In the rematch with Belton, Platte County won the second set and then survived a lengthy back and forth in the deciding set. Belton eventually held on to win the third set 29-27 on the way to the finals. Polley put up 11 kills, while senior Haley Williams hit three service aces to help push Belton to three sets.
Polley and senior Hannah Kunels had two blocks apiece.
Belton 2, Platte County 0
Platte County hung close in the first set but ended up swept 25-23, 25-17 on Thursday, Sept. 15 in Belton, Mo.
In the matchup of Pirates, Belton stole the opening set and then pulled away in the second. Harris hit three service aces for Platte County and added nine assists, while Hensley led the way with 13 digs.
Blue Springs 2, Park Hill 0
The Trojans nearly forced a third set in a Gold Division loss Thursday, Sept. 15 in Blue Springs, Mo.
Again balanced on offense, Welsh led Park Hill’s attack for a second straight match with six kills, while Pella, Barnett and Edwards collected three apiece. Edwards put up a team-high 10 digs.
Lee’s Summit North 2, Park Hill 0
The Trojans dropped two tight sets in a Gold Division loss Tuesday, Sept. 13 at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo.
Welsh (eight), Pella (five), Edwards (four) and Honor Foutch (three) combined for all of Park Hill’s 20 kills. Courtney hit three service aces for the Trojans, while Huffman rounded out the offensive effort with 19 assists.