Kaminski stars all around, Cats claw Titans

By Bill Althaus
Blue Springs' Chloe Kaminski leaps to stop a Lee's Summit West attack during the Wildcats' four-set win Tuesday at home.
The Blue Springs Wildcats celebrate the match-clinching point as they beat Lee's Summit West in four sets at home Tuesday.
Blue Springs' Chloe Kaminski returns a serve during her team's four-set win Tuesday over Lee's Summit West.

Chloe Kaminski and the Blue Springs High School volleyball team were playing just their second match of the season, but the reigning area Player of the Year and her teammates were in midseason form.

Kaminski, a 5-foot-9 left-side hitter, led all players with 18 kills, and she and teammate Anna Christenson added 25 digs as the Wildcats improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in conference action Tuesday as they topped visiting Lee’s Summit West 25-22, 21-25, 25-19 and 25-22. 

While Kaminski turned in her usual dominating performance on the front row, it was her play on the back row that had everyone talking.

“She is just a complete player, front row or back row,” coach Katie Straka said, with Kaminski within listening distance. “I guess she did all right tonight.”

That brought a laugh from Kaminski, who made two point-saving digs in the decisive fourth set, managed to keep two balls in play that caromed off the ceiling and led the Cats with three of their six service aces.

“During the COVID quarantine I had this spiritual moment where I became determined that I was going to be as effective on the back row as I was on the front row,” Kaminski said. “And I’ve found out that the back row is so much fun.

“I like making a dig to save a point – that gets everyone fired up – and with my size, I’m probably going to be a back row player in college, so I’m going to enjoy every minute back there, and I’m going to work hard to be a complete player.”

That’s bad news for opponents, as Kaminski has become one of the most dominant front row players in Eastern Jackson County.

“With all we’ve gone through, without going to school, with altered practices because of the pandemic, I’m thrilled with how our team has come out and played,” Straka said. “I thought tonight we had to manufacture some of our zip and pep, and we were able to do that.

“West is such a good team, and we were able to hang in there and hold them off and get a big conference win early in the season.”

The Wildcats claimed a 25-22 win in the first set, but lost 21-25 in the second set.

“I thought we came and really played well in the third set, and we didn’t lose that momentum going into the fourth set,” said setter Lily Letchworth, who tallied 45 assists. “It’s early in the season, but we are playing as a team. This is as close of a team as I’ve played on in the last four years, and we’re all having a lot of fun.’

In the deciding fourth set, Kaminski served five late points in a row, and Letchworth seemed to gain an assist on every point.

“It was just a good night of volleyball,” Straka said, “and with all our girls have had to deal with because of the pandemic I am really happy with the way they’re competing and playing as a team.”