When Krista Daniels was hired last May to be the St. Pius X High School volleyball coach, she quickly organized a meeting with the players to discuss this season’s objectives.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
That turned into a brief conversation.
A team coming off an appearance in the Missouri Class 3 state tournament was eager to return.
“One of our goals was for them to make another appearance at the final four state games,” Daniels said. “We talked about it all summer and again once the season started.”
The Warriors are back in the final four after coming from behind for a 21-25, 27-25, 25-23 win over O’Hara in the Class 3 quarterfinals last Saturday.
Now with a 26-6-2 record, will open round robin play Friday in Cape Girardeau against Lutheran South of St. Louis. St. Francis Borgia of Washington faces Carl Junction in the other opening matchup.
The Warriors are the only team among the four who reached the state tournament last season. They finished third.
“I think that does give us an advantage,” Daniels said. “The fact that they have had experience playing in that arena and on that court will hopefully help them not be as nervous.”
St. Pius X features a hitting attack with three versatile outside hitters. Kate Cahill leads the team with 218 kills, but Sarah Schiesl (198 kills) and Olivia Stine (163 kills) aren’t far behind. Cahill also paces the team with 47 blocks.
Gabrielle Tarantino and Lauren McGurn have split setting duties. Each has topped 300 assists. Anne Gieger has a team-best 403 digs.
• Park Hill South: After emerging through the Kansas City portion of the Missouri Class 4 bracket, Park Hill South volleyball coach Debbie Fay said her team is battle tested.
But it hasn’t seen many tests like the one it will see in the state tournament Friday in Cape Girardeau.
The Panthers face Wildwood Lafayette, the two-time defending state champion in the opener of the tournament, a four-team round robin format.
Lafayette’s only loss in the last two years came this season to St. James Academy, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
“They are incredible! I am so excited to get to play them,” Fay said. “(We) love a challenge, and boy, this is one. I think (we) are a mature group and will just get out there and be proud to represent Kansas City.”
The Panthers have had their share of success in tournaments, having won three during the regular season.
The team is led by Ashton Anderson, Claire Friedlund, Maddie Palmer, Kayla Wainwright and Sammi Nay.
“We are very balanced and the most unselfish team I have ever coached,” Fay said, “and I’ve been around a long time.
Cross country update
Liberty North senior cross country runner Ty Hughes walked away disappointed from the Missouri Class 3 state championship meet last season.
Well, sort of.
Hughes’ eighth-place finish fell short of his goal to finish in the top-five, but he also recognized he was less than a year removed from a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the previous season.
Fully healthy now, Hughes is on a roll. He continued his strong senior campaign last Saturday by winning the Class 3, District 8 race at Smithville. Led by Hughes, Liberty North won the team portion of the meet to qualify its entire team for the Class 3 state championship race Saturday at Oak Hills Golf Course in Jefferson City. Platte County and Smithville also qualified.
Hughes’ winning time of 16 minutes,18.9 seconds was nearly 40 seconds better than second place Carter Christian of Excelsior Springs. It also would have been good enough to win the Class 3 state championship last fall.
Platte County’s Nathan Strauble, Smithville’s DJ Stahl and Liberty North’s Brandon Drew rounded out the top-five respectively.
In the girls Class 3, District 7 race, Liberty North senior Sammy Laurenzo took first and Smithville senior Katie Berger placing second.
Liberty North, Smithville, Platte County and St. Pius X qualified their full squads for the girls state championship meet Saturday.