In the opening volleyball match of the season, in the noisy gym of a crosstown rival, Lee’s Summit West’s Odyssey Warren still found more internal than external motivation Tuesday night.
“I’ve been kind of off a little lately in practices, so I tried to really fight tonight and show myself and everyone else that I can do a lot better than I have been doing,” Warren said.
So Warren felt she had something to prove when West took on Lee’s Summit at the Tigers’ Fieldhouse, and prove it she did. She tallied eight kills, and her all-over-the-floor play sparked the Titans to a 25-21, 25-15 sweep.
Warren, a 5-foot-8 sophomore outside hitter, made several key points for the Titans and hustled on defense to keep balls in play. West coach Jennifer Morgan had noticed her subpar practices too, and she also noticed her presence on the court against the Tigers.
“She has her moments in practice where she looks great, and she has moments she struggles a little bit,” Morgan said. “Minus a few serving errors, I thought she did a really nice job and showed us what she can do tonight.”
Warren’s kill total was second to junior outside hitter Erin Waltz, who finished with nine. Morgan sees the two complementing each other up front with senior Bella Baker adding more power from the right side.
“They both are really different hitters,” Morgan said. “They have different styles and hit a different ball so it probably throws the defense off a little bit.”
Warren and Waltz both had shots land early in the first game as West took a 5-1 lead it would never relinquish. Lee’s Summit, powered by the outside hitting of Claire Wagner and Taylor Stout, stayed close and eventually tied the score 18-18, but a 5-0 run featuring a shot in the corner from Warren and kill on the back line from Waltz put the Titans in control. Warren scored the winning point with a soft shot that fell in front of the net.
“(Warren) played phenomenal,” Lee’s Summit coach Lori Hanaway said. “She’s got that great volleyball body and she played really well. A hitter like that you’re not going to stop her all the time.”
“It wasn’t just me and Erin,” Warren said. “Everyone contributed tonight. We were on.”
Lee’s Summit stopped itself in the second game with a slew of unforced errors. Three miscues – two hits out of bounds and a four-hit call – helped fuel a 9-0 run that gave the Titans a 19-10 lead.
“We’re not a big unforced error team,” Hanaway said. “When we control the ball, we do really well. But when that falls apart that really hurts us and allows the other team to go on a run.”
Hanaway thought Lee’s Summit might have been a little uptight, since it was the first match of the season and her first against a program she led for five seasons before stepping down in 2015. Not only did they open against each other, the Titans and Tigers will meet again in their regular-season finale, too.
“It’s a tremendous way to start the season,” Morgan said.” It’s a big rival, Coach Hanaway has coached most of those girls … it’s just a big match for them.”