As Lee’s Summit West volleyball coach Jennifer Morgan saw Park Hill South and St. Teresa’s Academy play the first of two Class 4 sectional matches Saturday, she couldn’t help but notice some anxiety-induced mistakes.
“I was watching a match with two great teams and there were like six or seven service errors,” Morgan said. “I’m sure those teams don’t have that many service errors usually.”
Morgan had that in mind when the same scenario unfolded in West’s sectional match against Liberty. Service errors and other unforced miscues hit the Titans at the most inopportune times and led to a 25-20, 25-23 season-ending loss at Park Hill South.
West (18-12-2) made three service errors in the first set alone and saw numerous shots go wide or long throughout the match. That compounded the problem the Titans faced in Liberty middle hitters Caroline Crawford and Jordan Johnson, who terrorized the Titans at the net in both sets.
“In this type of a setting, your adrenalin’s up, you’re pumped up to go and then you hit a serve out of bounds,” Morgan said. “… we had a few too many of those things that went against us.”
The Titans were a little tight, senior middle hitter Baylie Andersen said, because they knew how close they were to bringing West back to the Class 4 state tournament for the first time since 2012.
“I think it was some of the adrenaline and some of the excitement of the game and the importance of it,” Andersen said. “We just wanted to really perform well for our team and I think that kind of had the opposite effect a little bit.”
Liberty, which beat West in two sets two weeks before in a tournament at Truman, got 10 kills from Crawford, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, and six from Johnson, a 6-1 senior. Both attackers were set up nicely by setter Meghan Schneider, who finished with 20 assists.
“We’re not a huge team,” Morgan said. “We have to play big and we have to cover their hitters so they can stay aggressive and swing with confidence. We did that a few times but we also let them get the best of us a few times.”
Liberty got to West late in the first set with a 6-1 run after the Titans had taken a 17-14 lead. Johnson had two kills in the run, which also included an errant West serve that nearly made it over the net and a hit that sailed out of bounds.
Another net serve and two hitting errors fueled another 6-0 Liberty run early in the second set as the Blue Jays built an 18-12 lead. But this time the Titans battled back with an 8-2 stretch for a 20-20 tie and took a 22-21 lead on a cross-court kill from outside hitter Odyssey Warren. Warren led the Titans with seven kills.
“I think we just dug down deep in ourselves and knew that we didn’t want this to be the end,” Andersen said. “We were going to fight for each other and our teammates. So we fought back.”
Warren added another point that put West up 23-22, but Crawford countered with a slam and the Blue Jays closed the match — and the Titans’ season — with a 3-0 run.
As tough as the ending was, the Titans still took some pride in winning a district championship and making it to sectionals after losing six of their last matches in the regular season.
“I think everyone’s just super proud of how we performed in districts and making it as far as we did,” Andersen said. “We couldn’t be more proud of each other for how far we’ve come.”
St. Michael’s off to state
St. Michael the Archangel reached the Class 2 state tournament with sectional and quarterfinal victories Saturday at St. Joseph Bishop LeBlond.
St. Michael (18-14-12), beat host Bishop LeBlond 25-21, 25-21 in the sectional and qualified for state with a 25-15, 25-18 win over Lexington in the quarterfinals.
This will be the first state tournament appearance in any team sport for St. Michael, which opened last August.