Coach Dave MacLean’s Blue Springs South volleyball team showed real true grit Thursday night.
The Jaguars had a never-say-die approach in a dramatic 25-22, 25-17 win over visiting Park Hill that clinched a share of the Suburban Big Seven title with Lee’s Summit.
“We showed some grit tonight, and look what we accomplished,” MacLean said after his senior-less team wrapped up the conference season with a 9-3 overall mark and the regular season with a 23-8 overall record. “We needed this. This was a gritty win and a great way to end the conference season.
“I’m really proud of the girls and I want to go in the locker room and let them know how proud I am of the way they played.”
The Jaguars will share the conference crown with Lee’s Summit, which defeated Raymore-Peculiar Thursday to also finish 9-3.
Blue Springs South dug a deep hole in the first set and trailed 21-17 when an awe-inspiring, heart-stopping 18th point rally set the tone for the rest of the night.
It appeared the Trojans had picked up point No. 22 when South’s libero Makenzie Griffel – who started the season on the junior varsity squad – came out of nowhere, jumped over teammate Katie Sparks and teamed with Mandy Main to get the ball over the net.
Somehow, the Jaguars won that point and outscored Park Hill 8-1 over the remainder of the set for the win.
“That point really energized the whole team,” said middle hitter Carsen Murray, who finished with seven kills. “That was an amazing point. We were all so excited – we felt like no one could beat us after that point.”
When asked about the rally, Griffel and Main gave a detailed explanation.
“I jumped over Katie,” Griffel said, “because Coach MacLean talks about valuing every point, not letting the ball hit the floor if you can get to it, and I knew I could get to it, so I did.”
Main nodded in agreement.
“It was crazy, and fun, and just crazy how we scored that point,” Main said. “It was just one point, but I think it helped us win the first set and get everyone excited about the possibility of winning.”
When asked about joining varsity midway through the season, Griffel said, “I worked my butt off – can I say butt in the paper? – well, I worked so hard that I was rewarded by Coach MacLean. And now, I’m working even harder. This was such a big win tonight.
“We all wanted to win conference and we’re at least co-champs, and that’s big because we’re such a young team and we’re all going to come back next year and we’re going to work as hard as we can.”
Park Hill led 6-1 in the second set, but the Jaguars slowly and steadily got back in the game and ran away with the win.
“I think the win in the first game kind of set the stage for the rest of the match,” Murray said. “We weren’t going to lose that second set.”
South’s Hannah LaPour finished the night with six kills.