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Big rally sparks Wildcats to win over rival Jaguars

By Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Blue Springs players celebrate a point during Thursday's home match with crosstown rival Blue Springs South. The Wildcats went on to win in three sets.

Blue Springs rode the momentum of a big rally in the set second to sweep rival Blue Springs South Thursday.

The 3-0 Suburban Big Eight victory is the fourth in a row in the series for the Wildcats – which comes after a seven-game winning streak for the Jaguars.

Blue Springs won 25-11, 25-16 and 25-9 behind a relentless attack on the front line, led by Oklahoma commit Chloe Kaminski. The junior had a team-high 16 kills for Blue Springs (6-3, 4-1 Big Eight) but seven other players had at least one kill.

“They are such a talented group,” South coach Mallori Perry said of Blue Springs. “We are working on defense and serve-receive but they are such a tough team to beat. They had the energy; they had the communication and they had the momentum after that second set.”

Blue Springs setter Lily Letchworth bumps a pass to a teammate in Thursday's match against Blue Springs South. Letchworth tallied 30 assists and 10 digs to help the Wildcats sweep the Jaguars 3-0.

Blue Springs had a little bit of a letdown after winning the first set and coach Katie Straka saw things slip away despite a comfortable advantage.

Tied at 4 early on, the Jaguars (3-4, 2-4) rattled off six of the next seven points and took a 10-5 lead. That rally featured a pair of kills from senior Aubrey LaPour, who led the Jaguars with 13. Junior Marti Strickert contributed 18 assists on the night for Blue Springs South.

Straka called a timeout but the Jaguars scored the first three points out of the break. South grew the advantage as large as eight, 14-6 and then 15-7.

“We came into the timeout and I said, ‘Doesn’t this feel good, this is how we play, this is us.’ And we lost it from there,” Perry said. “They got some fire going and took momentum. I thought if we’d go point-to-point we could push it and get back to two or three, but it wasn’t working for us like it was on the other side.”

Blue Springs South's Carson Demesko digs a Blue Springs hit in Thursday's match at Blue Springs. The Jaguars held an early lead in the second set but Blue Springs rallied for a win and rode the momuentum to a 3-0 win.

The Wildcats rattled off four points to make it 15-11, which led to a timeout by Perry. The next time Blue Springs South scored, it trailed 16-15.

The tie was short-lived and the Jaguars didn’t score again.

“That is big mentally,” Straka said of the comeback. “You see teams get behind and make a great comeback and they usually end up losing by two or three and can’t maintain it until the end. I was worried about that. We had great concentration and our kids have great senior leadership.”

The set ended with an ace by Kaminski – the Wildcats had five in the win. Kaminksi led the team with 11 digs, while Lily Letchworth added 10 digs and 30 assists.

The Wildcats raced out to an 8-1 lead in the third set – which led to a timeout by Perry – but the momentum never slowed. The advantage reached double figures at 16-6 and the final timeout came with Blue Springs leading 18-8.

The loss was the third straight for the Jaguars in conference play with two of the three games next week coming against Big Eight foes Liberty North (Tuesday at home) and Lee’s Summit North (on Thursday on the road).

Blue Springs' Ella Duchane knocks down a spike in Thursday's match against Blue Springs South. The Wildcats claimed a 3-0 win.