It’s a testament to the depth and high quality of the volleyball talent at Blue Springs South when the Jaguars can use a late-season match to experiment with different lineups.
Stepping out of Suburban Big Seven play Thursday at home with Belton visiting, South put players in different positions and rotated its entire varsity roster during a dominating 25-10, 25-7 win.
“We tried a new lineup and got some kids working on some things,” Jaguars coach Dave MacLean said. “They’ve all been trained to play multiple positions. At the same time, we’ve got to look at and check out a few more things as we get ready for districts. Tonight was an opportunity to (do that).”
For the players, the match offered a bit of a reprieve from the grind of conference play.
“It was a good match to work on techniques,” said junior Katie Sparks, who opened the match with an eight-point serving run. “I think it helps us relax a little bit and then Friday we can get in a good practice and next week be ready for (Raymore-Peculiar and Park Hill).”
South (22-7) entered the contest having lost four of five after a brief rough patch in the schedule.
“I think we needed a win like this,” said Ellie Hermanson, who normally is a libero but played as part of the rotation Thursday. “It gave us our confidence back and we started playing as a team again. We can get back to having fun more than being stressed out about plays and how we’re playing.”
The match was never close as the Jaguars jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the first set, then opened set two on a 15-4 run.
Anna Ryan finished with 10 kills to lead the way for South, with Hannah LaPour knocking down six shots and Carsen Murray adding five kills and four blocks.
Murray, Sparks, Rylie Gregston and Mandy Main all had aces for the Jaguars.
“We have a lot of versatility with our kids, a lot of good hitters, a lot of different ways that we can overwhelm a team,” MacLean said. “I thought our kids played with respect, we were focused on what we needed to do and we just executed our plan of what we needed to execute.”
Added LaPour: “It was good to see a lot of players get opportunities and to execute.”
Though the match offered a different dynamic for his team, MacLean said South needs to enter each match with the same mentality as it goes for a share of the Suburban Big Seven title next week and prepares for the Class 4 District 9 tournament Oct. 16-18.
“We’re trying to work on being consistently focused,” he said. “We can’t ride the roller coaster of emotions. We want to be consistent in that we are the thermostat and we determine the temperature of our team. We don’t want to play up to opponents, and we don’t want to play down to opponents – we just want to play the best we can play. … We need to continue to come together as a team and put our right foot forward heading into the postseason.”
LaPour said the Jaguars, Class 4 state quarterfinalists last season, are looking forward to the season’s stretch run.
“Our goals are still the same,” she said. “We still want to make a deep playoff run. We’re still working hard. We had a little bit of a hiccup, but I think we’re back and we’re excited about our potential.”