Eight matches into the season – with a new-look Blue Springs South volleyball team that returns just two starters from last year’s state quarterfinalist – coach Mallori Perry finally saw a glimmer of what she was seeking in 2019.
It came Tuesday night at Grain Valley High School where the Jaguars dominated the host Eagles 25-11, 25-13 in a non-conference match that actually benefited each team.
“We just got back from Bentonville (Ark.) this past weekend and we saw a lot of teams we will never see again, and worked on a lot of things that none of the teams in our area will ever really know about,” Perry said after the Jaguars improved to 5-3.
“After watching the girls play tonight, I know our trip to Bentonville really paid off. We got off to a slow start, but we are getting closer and closer to the team I want to see on a daily basis, and we really played well tonight. I couldn’t be any happier.”
With 6-foot-2 middle hitter Carsen Murray dominating on the front row, the Jaguars ran out to an 18-8 lead in the first game. They dominated the second game, too, as Murray finished with 11 kills and five blocks.
“Oh, my goodness, this is by far the best we have played this season,” Murray said. “We were missing our setter, Mandy Mann, who is sick, and Marti Stricket came in and played in her place and she was just amazing.
“He sets were perfect and we really played like a team tonight. Everyone who played contributed, and that is what we need to do to have a successful season.”
First-year Grain Valley head coach Kelsey Carver conducted a lengthy post-match meeting with her 0-2 Eagles, and when she returned to the court she said her team could play with the much taller Jaguars if they simply stick to the basics.
“I think we came out and were a little intimidated by their size, and their name – Blue Springs South is a great team with a great history – and they got the big leads in each match,” Carver said.
“But when we ran our offense – which we didn’t do nearly as much as I’d hoped we would – we were able to play with them. This is one of those non-conference games where you want to go against some of the best talent in the area because that will really prepare us when we start conference play.”
Blue Springs South finished in a fourth-place tie in the Bentonville Tournament Saturday, going 3-2.
The finished 3-0 in pool play with wins over Rogers (Ark.) (25-22, 24-26, 15-10), Carthage (25-16, 25-20) and Bentonville (25-20, 25-17). But in Gold Bracket play, the Jaguars lost 25-16, 25-22 to Greenwood and 25-18, 25-17 in a rematch against Bentonville.