Lee’s Summit volleyball coach Lori Hanaway found two things confounding Tuesday, the Tigers’ lethargy and their inability to serve.
The two problems can go hand in hand, and did for the host Tigers against St. Teresa’s Academy, when every missed serve seemed to sap more energy during a 25-21, 25-16 loss.
“Serving was terrible and they know it,” Hanaway said. “The first game we missed five serves and lost by four points, so that tells you a lot right there.”
Lee’s Summit (16-5-1) missed 10 serves during the two sets and finished with a 76.3 serving percentage. Normally, the Tigers land 88 percent of their serves, which makes all the serves into the net or sailing out of bounds more mystifying for Hanaway.
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“Usually, we’re a pretty good serving team,” Hanaway said. “I don’t know if it was nerves, uptightness or what it was. We just didn’t get the job done from behind the serving line.”
That can spell trouble against a team like St. Teresa’s, a perennial Class 4 power and state-tournament team last season.
A serve in the net ended a 6-2 run that gave the Tigers an early lead in the first set.
Lee’s Summit still led 13-11 when two straight serves failed to get over and St. Teresa’s responded with a 7-2 run that put the Stars in control.
That trend continued in the second set.
Lee’s Summit trailed 9-7 when another errant serve started a 9-2 St. Teresa’s run that included yet another serve into the net.
“We had no energy, no intensity throughout the entire game, because right when we would get the serve we’d miss it,” Tigers outside hitter Claire Wagner said. “It was just a chain reaction, and we just fell apart at the end.”
The serving woes overshadowed a strong game from Wagner, who made 8 kills on 12 attempts in the first set and 5 of 7 in the second for a total of 13 kills.
Wagner’s outside hitting complemented the middle hitting of 6-foot-2 sophomore Harper Snyder, who made 8 kills on 10 attempts for the match.
“Claire’s one of the best players in the metro,” Hanaway said. “When you can hit against a tall block like she does from every position on the court, you’re a complete player, and Harper gets better day by day. As a sophomore, she’s really coming along.”
Wagner wrote off the loss to a bad day, and Hanaway was inclined to do the same.
Lee’s Summit stood second in the Suburban Gold Conference with a 6-2 record going into Thursday’s match against Lee’s Summit North, and she expected little carryover from this loss.
“It’s a compounding effect — low energy, all of a sudden you miss a serve and your energy goes lower,” Hanaway said. “That’s a mental thing. That’s something we can control, so we’ll work on that.”