Jaguars make Senior Night special

By Bill Althaus
Blue Springs South seniors Aubrey LaPour (18) and Kyla Braden (4) celebrate with teammates after defeating Raymore-Peculiar 3-2 on Senior Night Tuesday.

The Blue Springs South volleyball team is playing like there is no tomorrow.

And with the COVID-19 pandemic looming, anything is possible.

With that in mind, a marathon session of power versus finesse finally saw the ever-changing momentum finally swing in favor of the host Jaguars Tuesday night.

They won the first two sets in tight battles (25-23, 27-25), lost the next two in more close play (25-19, 25-20) before claiming the 3-2 win with a 15-9 advantage in the decisive fifth set on Senior Night. 

Seniors Aubrey LaPour, Kylie Gregory, Kyla Braden and Tamia McClunie rallied their teammates to make sure their night was one filled with memories that can briefly overshadow the pandemic.

Blue Springs South senior Kyla Braden celebrates her team's five-set conference win over Raymore-Peculiar on Senior Night Tuesday.

“I love our seniors, and those four girls are the perfect leaders to have on a team during this pandemic,” South coach Mallori Perry said after the Jaguars improved to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference. “All season long we’ve talked about playing each night like it’s the last time you’re able to play, because with this pandemic, who knows what is going to happen tomorrow? And our girls did that tonight.

“Like we’ve talked about so many times in the past, the momentum swung back and forth in each game, and we finally got it back in the fifth set and were able to win. And it’s such a huge win for all our girls, but it’s especially huge for our seniors.”

LaPour set the tone early, scoring the first four Jaguar points off gym-shaking kills.

Blue Springs South senior Aubrey LaPour (18) drives the ball through the hands of Raymore-Peculiar defender Avery Lowe (13) in Tuesday's match at South. LaPour powered the Jaguars with 15 kills as they defeated the Panthers 3-2.

“I’ve been blessed to coach Aubrey and (her sister) Hannah and I know how special this night is for both of them,” said Perry, as Hannah watched her sister from the socially distanced stands. “When Aubrey really gets going, like she had it going tonight, she’ll stomp her foot after a big kill and all her teammates will respond.

“It’s like kill, foot stomp, everyone go crazy – and we were lucky to have a lot of that tonight.”

LaPour led all players with 15 kills, but all she and front linemate McClunie wanted to talk about was the big win on Senior Night.

“I don’t even know I’m stomping my foot until I watch video of our match, and it’s like, ‘Hmm, I hope I don’t hurt myself doing that,’” LaPour joked. “Really it’s just part of my game. I’ve done it a long time, I don’t even think about it, I just want to do whatever I need to do to win.”

The power of the Jaguars overmatched the Panthers in the first two games, but Ray-Pec found a way to use finesse to claim wins in the third and fourth sets.

“They did a nice job,” Perry said of the Panthers. “I think some of our girls were a little bit too amped up and we talked about that during our timeouts late in the match. I just know after getting those first two wins, it felt great to get that final win and see all the smiles on our girls faces.”

One of the biggest belonged to McClunie, who added 10 kills, to go along with 13 by Gregory.

Blue Springs South senior Tamia McClunie, right, drives a hit past a block attempt by Raymore-Peculiar's Julia Dorweiler (6) and Avery Lowe (13) in Tuesday's conference match at South. McClunie had 10 kills to help the Jaguars win 3-2.

“I think we all inspired each other tonight,” McClunie said. “There was so much team energy out on the court, you could just feel it. We were depending on one another and we didn’t want to let anyone down.

“I think – I know! – that’s how we were able to come back and win that fifth set.”

Blue Springs South's Tori Valentine (14) hits a spike past the block attempt by Raymore-Peculiar's Julia Dorweiler (6) and Avery Lowe (13) Tuesday at South. The host Jaguars claimed a win in five sets.
Blue Springs South junior Marti Strickert (8) makes a pass to a teammate in Tuesday's 3-2 home win over Raymore-Peculiar.