The St. Pius X High School volleyball team has made three straight appearances in the Missouri Class 3 state tournament. A fourth won’t come easy.
The Warriors lost five seniors from last season’s team, which finished 29-7-2 and took third place at state. That includes first team all-state selections Kathryn Cahill and Olivia Stine.
Their absences have led to some early-season growing pains for the Warriors, who have opened the fall with a 2-1 record nonetheless.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re still working to find that right combination of players to get us to the point where we were last year,” Daniels said. “But I think they know it’s not going to be an easy task. They know they’re going to have to work hard to step up and fill those seniors’ shoes.”
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Daniels said the Warriors are considerably shorter this season without Cahill and Stine, which has shaped the team’s offensive attack. Senior Sarah Schiesl is the top outside hitter after recording 230 kills last season.
“We’re definitely looking to her, but with that being said, we have to make sure we keep it mixed up in the front row and not just rely on that one person,” Daniels said.
The team’s strength suddenly lies in its defensive back row, Daniels said, with libero Anne Geiger leading the cause. Gieger had 457 digs last season.
Setter Lauren McGurn, who had 360 assists in 2013, is also back.
“I think we’re going to be a scrappy team,” Daniels said. “Blocking will be something we will definitely need to work on because our height isn’t there like it was last year. So communication is going to be a big, big thing for us.”
Kearney distance runner Clayton Adams notched Missouri Class 4 all-state selections in cross country and track as a freshman.
“I hope it’s just the beginning,” he said after placing fifth in the Class 4 state 3,200-meter race last spring.
Adams opened his sophomore cross country season by taking second in the Kearney Invitational at Jesse James Park over the weekend, finishing behind only Blue Springs senior Stephen Mugeche. Kearney placed fifth in its home meet.
Liberty took second, with senior Matt Alvey placing fourth and junior Brandon Colner finishing fifth. Alvey missed all-state honors by one place last season.
Park Hill senior Kyle Pudenz was seventh in the race. Staley seniors Chris Wood and Hanok Tekle were ninth and 10th, respectively.
The Liberty Blue Jays saw their softball season end in heartbreaking fashion last fall. They suffered a 1-0 loss to Truman in extra innings, halting a 22-win campaign.
A year later, Liberty remains a force.
The Blue Jays opened the 2014 season by placing second in the Greater Kansas City Suburban Softball Invitational at Adair Park. They qualified for the gold bracket, where they defeated Raymore-Peculiar and Platte County before falling to Missouri Class 4 defending state champion Lee’s Summit in the championship game. They could muster only one run off Tigers starter Emily Robinson.
Kearney placed seventh in the gold bracket. Smithville was third in the silver bracket. Oak Park won the bronze consolation bracket.