The birthday girl was having a blast on her special day.
Blue Springs High School senior Cherray Wilson and her Wildcat teammates got off to a 12-0 start in the first set against visiting Grain Valley and never looked back claiming a 25-11, 25-7, 25-11 non-conference win in a best-of-five match.
As the jubilant Wildcats emerged from their locker room, they were licking icing off their fingers as Wilson celebrated her 18th birthday with her teammates, who came close to perfection in the three-set sweep.
“This isn’t my best birthday present,” said a grinning Wilson, “but it’s a close second. I got a car for my 16th birthday, but tonight is really, really special.”
It was a special night for many of her teammates as libero Anna Christenson served all 12 of those first-set points and finished the night with four aces and a team-high 25 digs.
“I did?” Christenson asked, when she was told about her 12 points in a row in the first set. “I didn’t even notice, to be honest with you. I just knew we got off to a great start and I was happy to be a part of it.”
It was one of those rare nights where the 9-4 Wildcats got all the momentum in the first set and never allowed the Eagles to get back in any of the three games.
“We took advantage of every opportunity we had tonight and really played well,” added Christenson, who was carrying a big piece of the iced birthday cookie cake. “We never underestimate our opponent, and I think that’s another reason we played so well.”
Chloe Kaminski, a sophomore outside hitter, tied another Wildcat sophomore, middle hitter Ella Duchane, for the lead in kills with nine.
“We really fed off each other tonight, with so many girls contributing to this victory,” Kaminski said. “We knew Grain Valley was a smaller school, but we didn’t play down to them. We respected them and played one of our best matches of the season.”
It wasn’t her birthday, but freshman Nikole Schnell felt like celebrating as she played her first varsity minutes, getting a kill on her first rotation and serving the final three points of the 25-11 third set win, including an ace on the 24th point.
As she stood on the back row, ready to serve the game-winning point, the Wildcats bench and many of the fans were chanting at the top of their lungs, “She’s a freshman!”
It was all Schnell could do to keep from breaking out in an ear-to-ear grin, which appeared on her face when she served the 25th point.
“Nikole is very talented and came into the match at the perfect time,” Wildcats coach Katie Straka said. “She came in for Chloe, and Chloe was over on the bench cheering and supporting Nikole and she got a kill and scored the last few points, and Chloe and the girls were as excited as she was.”
There wasn’t much excitement on the Eagles’ bench as they never got anything going against the Wildcats.
“Blue Springs is a good team, and we talked about the things we need to work on to become a better team,” first-year coach Kelsey Carver said after her Eagles fell to 10-11. “As the match went on, we did some good things at the net – better footwork and things like that – and we’ll get back to work at practice tomorrow.”