The Show Me Center will welcome two Kansas City area schools to Cape Girardeau, Mo., this weekend for the high school volleyball state tournaments.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
St. Pius X will return to the Missouri Class 3 state tournament for the fourth straight season after sweeping Boonville in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.
Liberty, on the other hand, earned its first ever berth to the Missouri Class 4 state tournament when it defeated Platte County in a quarterfinal match Saturday at Lee’s Summit.
The difference in experience, of course, represents a unique situation for both teams.
“I think playing at the state tournament the past three years definitely gives the girls an advantage,” St. Pius X coach Krista Daniels said. “I think no matter how many times you have gone to state, there will always be some nerves when you get there, but I think these girls are ready for this challenge.”
Liberty, 31-0-2, can’t rely on that experience, but that doesn’t change the Blue Jays’ hope for the weekend. They will be joined by Lafayette Wildwood, St. Joseph’s Academy and Ozark at the Class 4 tournament. Lafayette, 25-7, is the three-time defending state champions.
The tournaments start Friday.
“The message we have relayed to our team is (that) you can’t move forward if you are satisfied,” Liberty coach April Fleming said. “We are happy that we’ve made it this far, but right now we have bigger goals in mind.”
Those goals seem attainable given the season Liberty has enjoyed. The Blue Jays are yet to lose a match this season — a mark Fleming attributes to a blend of team chemistry and talent.
The bulk of that talent lies within senior Madison Duello, a Wisconsin commit who leads the team with 480 kills this season. She has a 51 percent kill efficiency. Junior Morgan Fleming is second on the team with 120 kills.
Logan Foster has recorded a team-best 66 blocks for Liberty. Senior setter Lauren Petersen, an Arkansas commit, has 740 assists. Junior libero Dominique Lipari leads the team with 311 digs.
Similarly, it’s been a group effort that’s helped St. Pius X reach the state tournament once again. The Warrirors, 29-5-3, will be joined by Helias, Villa Duchesne and St. Pius X Festus at the Class 3 tournament.
Senior Sarah Schiesl leads the team with 200 kills this season. Senior libero Anne Geiger has 379 digs. Senior setter Lauren McGurn has dished out 321 assists.
Seven players in the Warriors’ rotation have at least 56 kills this season.
“We have become a very aggressive hitting team all across the front row, and I think if we utilize all that we have, we will be very successful,” Daniels said. “This team has shown a lot of heart this season, especially in these last few weeks, and as long as we continue with that same momentum, I see great things happening this weekend.”