Some performances should be put in a vault so fans can witness the pursuit of excellence and the will to win at the highest level of competition. Blue Springs middle hitter Lisa Henning turned in one of those performances Wednesday night
Some performances should be put in a vault so fans can witness the pursuit of excellence and the will to win at the highest level of competition.
Blue Springs middle hitter Lisa Henning turned in one of those performances Wednesday night in the championship game of the Class 4 District 14 championship against St. Teresa’s Academy on the Wildcats’ home court.
Following a lackluster 25-19 loss to the Stars in the opening game, Henning rallied the Wildcats for a dramatic 25-19, 25-16 comeback that gave the 31-4 Blue Springs squad its second consecutive district crown and a berth in Saturday’s Class 4 sectional playoff against Lee’s Summit North at Blue Springs South High School.
“I’ve seen Lisa do what she did tonight so many times, I’m never surprised,” Wildcats coach Katie Grusing said, “but tonight, she was pretty special.”
Henning scored the first five points in the second game, helping the Wildcats overcome a 3-1 deficit.
Then, right side hitter Kirsten Erikson caught fire and scored the next three points. Later, Ali Cavanaugh went on a scoring binge and setter Kieley Culbertson placed the ball in perfect position time and time again for the front-row standouts to send the shell-shocked Stars home wondering what had just happened.
“It took us a while to get going,” said Erikson, who finished with seven kills and four perfectly placed taps that resulted in Blue Springs points. “Lisa really got us going the second game, we regained our momentum and that was pretty much it.
“We were all pretty embarrassed the way we played in the first game, and we knew we had to get going the second game or we were going home for good.”
With the 6-foot-1 Henning and 6-foot Erikson dominating up front, the Wildcats claimed a 16-9 lead that was soon a 22-14 advantage. The 23rd and 24th points came on Henning kills, and an errant Stars serve resulted in the game-winning point.
“I was proud of the way the girls came back,” Grusing said. “We played so well in the second game – and it just shows how a perfect set can lead to a big kill or how a well-place tip can be as effective as a kill.
“The girls were never rattled – they were disappointed, but they weren’t rattled – and they came out and played the way we’re used to seeing them play.”
The Stars showed they had plenty of fight left in the third game, taking an early 3-1 lead. That’s when the dynamic duo of Henning and Erikson took over at the net, scoring eight of the next nine points.
Cavanaugh then scored three points in a row and the rout was on.
All that was left was the celebration, and it was well mannered and subdued.
“We’ve still got a lot left to prove this year,” said Henning, who finished with 15 kills. “We didn’t have a good attitude the first game. I don’t know why, we just didn’t. Maybe it was because that was the first time we played St. Teresa’s and we didn’t really know how to play them.
“But once we played them a game, we knew what to do the second game. Besides, I wasn’t going to let anyone down tonight. This was a goal – winning district – but the bigger goal is getting to state. In the second game, everyone was like, ‘This is it, let’s get it done,’ and we went out and got it done.”
The Wildcats meet Lee’s Summit North at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the sectional playoff at Blue Springs South High School. North advanced by beating Lee’s Summit West 25-23, 25-16 in the District 13 championship. The winner advances to a 6 p.m. state quarterfinal.