One by one, members of the Blue Springs volleyball team filed out of their home locker room Saturday afternoon.
Sisters Ella, a sophomore, and Evelyn, a senior, Duchane were holding each other close as tears ran down their faces following a heartbreaking three-set Class 4 sectional loss to perennial state power St. Teresa’s Academy.
Seniors Aliyah Bello and Cherray Wilson held back the tears and accepted hugs and thanks from the fans who had gathered in the hallway outside of the Blue Springs High School gymnasium.
The Wildcats claimed a 27-25 win in the first set and gave the Stars all they could handle in a 25-20 loss in the second, only to fall 25-15 in the third.
Coach Katie Straka could only wonder what might have been, realizing her team was not firing on all cylinders in the deciding third set.
“I thought we had them after we won the first set and had that early (8-3) lead in the second set,” Straka said. “You know, the last time we played them we lost in three sets, so I don’t think there was an intimidation factor. They’re just a great team and we gave them everything we had.
“It’s just going to be tough going to school Monday and not having practice. This is such a fun group to be around, and I am so thankful that so many of our girls are coming back. But it’s never easy to say goodbye to our seniors, and we had some great seniors this year.”
Bello, who led the Wildcats with eight kills, managed a smile as she talked about her team’s 22-11 season.
“We left it all on the court, and I don’t think we had enough left in our tank to finish,” Bello said. “We worked so hard to get that first win, and we got it/ Then, we got the lead in the second set. But they’re so good. You have to play almost a perfect game to beat them, and they came back to win the next two sets.
“But I am so proud to have been a part of this team. I love this team, our coaches, my girls. We gave it our heart and soul today and came up a little bit short.”
Chloe Kaminski, a sophomore outside hitter, had six kills and a team-high 25 digs as she was as impactful on the back row as she was up front.
“We wanted to win this for our seniors,” Kaminski said. “It’s crazy to think I’m never going to play with our seniors again. I don’t even want to think about it.
“But I am excited about the future of our team. I just wish I was getting ready for practice Monday and another match next week.”
St. Teresa’s middle hitter Kelly Greene led the Stars with 10 kills.
Liberty defeated Lee’s Summit 25-19, 25-17 in the other sectional and then topped St. Teresa’s 25-21, 17-25, 25-22 in the quarterfinal to claim the state final four berth.