After back-to-back heartbreaking district losses, the Blue Springs volleyball team showed what it was made of Wednesday night.
After back-to-back heartbreaking district losses, the Blue Springs volleyball team showed what it was made of Wednesday night at Raytown High School, where the Wildcats claimed a hard-fought 25-17, 19-25, 25-13 victory over a never-say-die St. Teresa’s squad in the championship game of the Class 4 District 14 Tournament.
The Wildcats will play a sectional game at 3 p.m. Saturday at Blue Springs South High School against an opponent to be determined.
“I don’t care who we play,” said senior Kaylee Miller, who led the Wildcats with 10 kills, “after losing in district the past two years – including right here to St. Teresa’s my sophomore year – this feels so good. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better feeling after a match.
“We won the first game pretty easy, then they came back and proved we’d never give up. After that loss in the second game, our seniors (Miller, Morgan Reynolds and Ashton Bodenstab) just kind of got together and said we had to play with the same consistency we showed in the first game.
“It was close for a while, then we just kind of took off.”
The 32-2 Wildcats were clinging to a 10-8 lead when junior middle hitter Lisa Henning took over.
The Wildcats scored eight consecutive points with Henning getting three kills, two blocks, a tip and back-to-back aces.
“I was kind of, like, struggling in the first two games and I was really happy I could contribute in the third game,” said Henning, who had nine kills in the match. “This is my first district championship, and I’m so excited. But I’m most excited for our three seniors. They really deserve this.”
When the match was over, Miller, Reynolds and Bodenstab were presented the district championship plaque as their teammates cheered.
“This feels so good,” said Reynolds, who has talked about the fact that she has thought every day about the Wildcats upset loss to cross-town rival Blue Springs South last year in district play. “We really played well in the first game, then they came back strong in the second game.
“I don’t know if it was so much how well they played, or how well they capitalized on our mistakes. We talked about settling down in the third game. I think we were too pumped up, too excited in that second game.”
Reynolds also said that the Wildcats had to return to their own speed.
“We played to their tempo, and we can’t let teams do that to us,” she said. “When we played our game, in the third game, we really played well.”
The Wildcats reached the championship match by routing Raytown 25-7, 25-10 earlier in the evening.
The Stars ended Blue Springs South’s season with identical 25-14, 25-14 wins in their semifinal match.
The win put an exclamation point next to Katie Grusing’s first season as the Wildcats head coach as she faced great expectations from a fan base that almost demanded a district championship.
“The girls got it done tonight,” Grusing said. “I thought our defense was just outstanding, especially in the third game, and Lisa, Kaylee, Morgan, Ashton, Becca (Pettit, nine kills), Kiely (Culbertson) – everyone really – just played so hard all night.
“Morgan had four kills, but I remember each one of them. They all came at key times. I was so proud of the way the girls came back in that third game. It was 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 10-8 – there were opportunities to let it slip away – and they just wouldn’t let it happen.”
ST. TERESA’S 25-25, BLUE SPRINGS SOUTH 14-14: Jaguars coach Carmen Johnson was proud of the way her 6-17-1 squad wrapped up its season.
“The only thing I wasn’t happy with tonight was the final score,” Johnson said. “St. Teresa’s is a very talented team, and our girls gave it everything they had – especially early in each game.”
The score was knotted at 9-9 in each game before St. Teresa’s took control.
“Their serving was amazing tonight, especially (Kathleen) Vogel (who served 12 consecutive points in the second game). And she’s just a freshman. We’re young, too, and we have some great kids back next year.”
Freshman Carly Sojka led the Jaguars with three kills.