Shelby Hoffman is a first-year coach who used a little psychology to get her No. 3 seed Lee’s Summit North volleyball team ready to face longtime Suburban Big Seven rival Blue Springs in a Class 4 District 14 semifinal Tuesday night.
“They beat us twice in the regular season and kind of got in our heads, and Coach didn’t let that happen this game,” said senior outside hitter Aubree Bell, who matched teammate Mindy Kilgore’s team-high nine kills in a 25-22, 25-19 win over the second-seeded Wildcats. “She talked about how tough it is to beat a good team – and I think we are a good team – three times in the same season. We were really ready tonight and I think we played one of our better matches of the season. We were focused and ready to go.”
The win puts the host Broncos (20-13) in tonight’s 7 p.m. title match against St. Teresa’s Academy (22-6-1), a 25-15, 25-10 winner over Truman in the other semifinal.
Two gym-rattling kills by Bell, the granddaughter of Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell, gave the Broncos the win in the second set.
“Instead of trying to find their weakness, I told the girls to concentrate on our strengths and they did that tonight,” said Hoffman, a former standout volleyball player at Truman High School, who posed for a photo with retired Broncos head coach Rhea Moses after the big win.
“I’m just so proud of them. There was nothing we could do or control on the other side of the net, and our effort tonight was just outstanding. I guess maybe I did use a little psychology. I’m glad it worked out.”
While Hoffman was receiving congratulatory high-fives and hugs, longtime Wildcats coach Katie Grusing was trying to come up with the right words to say goodbye to four seniors who have meant so much to her team, which finished its season 18-12-2.
“The toughest night of the season, the absolute worst, when you have to go into a locker room and tell your kids goodbye, especially those four seniors,” said Grusing, referring to Jacqueline Perry, Brooke Reed, Kayle Welch and Maddie Wingert.
“Only one team can walk off the court with a win at the end of the season and the other 104 have to go through what we just went through, and it’s just so difficult.
“I’m sure they talked about how tough it is to beat a good team three times in one season, and we found that out tonight. I didn’t think we did anything to help them win tonight, they just played an outstanding match.”
The Broncos’ front-line play, with Bell and Mindy Kilgore each collecting nine kills, was dominating at times, and their blocking ability took some of the punch out of the Wildcats’ offensive scheme.
“I thought we did a nice job blocking the ball and all the girls played well tonight,” Hoffman said. “We’ve played St. Teresa’s twice this season – losing at their place then beating them in our tournament, so tomorrow night should be exciting.”
Reed led the Wildcats with nine kills and seven digs and Caroline Foster dished out 17 assists.
ST. TERESA’S 25-25, TRUMAN 15-10: The No. 1 seed Stars made quick work of the Patriots, claiming a two-set win in dominating fashion.
“They’re a very good team,” first-year Truman coach David Gardner said after his young team finished 15-13-2. “We had a good season and were just outgunned at the end.”
Former Blue Springs South golf and basketball all-state player Amanda Hanneman, who is the head basketball coach at St. Teresa’s, is an assistant volleyball coach for the Stars.