Chloee Tripp and Georgia Klink will remember the love and warmth from Oak Grove High School’s Senior Night long after they have forgotten the final score of a well-played 25-17, 25-19 Missouri River Valley Conference West loss to visiting Grain Valley.
The two seniors, who were joined by exchange student Francesca Chiari (a member of the Panthers’ C team) in a touching pre-game ceremony, did not want to leave their home gym after a long night of volleyball.
“This is so amazing, I don’t even have words for it,” said Tripp, as she and Klink posed for photos with friends, family members and teammates. “This is the last time we’ll play in our gym and we wanted to give it our all – and I think we did.”
Klink agreed, adding, “It’s all so surreal. Before the match, we were so emotional. Then, we started playing and it seemed like a regular volleyball match. Now, it all seems surreal again. It’s a night we’ll always remember.”
It was a big night, too, for coach Keri Peterson’s Eagles, who improved to 21-7-2 overall and 7-2 in the MRVC West.
The Panthers did a nice job of blocking on the front row and playing defense in both games, but in the end, Grain Valley’s Asya Harris and Gracie LaForge were just too much to handle.
“We made a few adjustments to get out our front row play more involved,” LaForge said, “and we came out in the second set with a lot more intensity. There was a great atmosphere tonight, since it was their Senior Night, and we’re happy to leave here with a victory.”
The Eagles trailed in the second set 9-3 when Harris entered the game and recorded five kills during a six-point Grain Valley run.
“Dynamic kills like that can really turn a set around,” Peterson said. “I thought we played well in both sets. After Asya had that series of kills, Gracie came on strong (with four kills) and we were able to maintain some momentum and keep it.”