From the outset of Wednesday’s Class 1 District 15 championship, the St. Mary’s volleyball team was sent backpedaling.

From the outset of Wednesday’s Class 1 District 15 championship, the St. Mary’s volleyball team was sent backpedaling.

The Trojans never really did slow the momentum West Platte built in the opening minutes, and the host Blue Jays garnered 25-16, 25-17 victory.

The nature of the defeat was baffling for St. Mary’s coach Krista Daniels. Daniels said she can almost always predict her team’s performance based on how it warms up. The Trojans (19-12-2) looked focused and energetic pregame, Daniels said, but once the action started they quickly came unraveled.

West Platte (24-5-2) built an early 17-5 lead in the first game, and with the exception of late 5-0 and 3-0 spurts, the Trojans never notched consecutive points.

“I honestly don’t know what happened,” Daniels said. “As soon as they got a little bit of momentum, they ran with it and we didn’t know what to do. We just kind of fell apart. I hate to say that.”

Things didn’t get much better in the second game as the Jays started with a 6-1 run. The lead swelled to 16-8 before St. Mary’s finally found some traction and pulled within 17-13 after sophomore Jenna Rau slammed two spikes sandwiching a kill from Arielle Alaiwat.

But that was as close as the Trojans got.

Daniels couldn’t pinpoint what caused her squad’s struggles, but she said it certainly didn’t help playing on the Jays’ home court in front of a full student section that was rowdy from start to finish.

Senior setter Alexis Sirna admitted the constant crowd noise compounded the Trojans’ issues.

“I think the crowd got to us especially in the first game,” she said. “It didn’t really affect us in the second game as much. ... They were just a really good team. We went back and forth with them during the season (splitting a pair of regular-season meetings), so I guess it was just whoever worked the hardest.”

Alaiwat led St. Mary’s with five kills while Andrea Sirna added 11 assists and Mariel Saunders came away with 13 digs.
Daniels said this season’s team got along better than any other team she’s coached. That didn’t always translate to success on the court, but it made it a more enjoyable group to be around.

And it made Wednesday’s disappointment even tougher to swallow.

“It’s just tough ending like this,” Daniels said. “I had high expectations for these girls and they knew that and they had high expectations for themselves. It’s just unfortunate.”