With its first Missouri River Valley Conference West title to its credit and a school-record 21 wins, Grain Valley’s volleyball program achieved more this season than any in its history.

With its first Missouri River Valley Conference West title to its credit and a school-record 21 wins, Grain Valley’s volleyball program achieved more this season than any in its history.
But one achievement eluded the Eagles – the Class 3 District 15 title.
After sweeping Marshall in the District 15 semifinals Wednesday, Grain Valley fell to defending District 15 champion Excelsior Springs 25-17, 29-27 later in the title match. With the loss, the Eagles finished 21-8-3.
“You cannot take away all the successes that we had this year,” Eagles coach Keri Peterson said.
But the Eagles might have enjoyed the achievement of a district title, Peterson suggested, if they had given the kind of effort in game one that they gave in game two. According to Peterson, the Eagles realized they needed to win the second game to keep their season going “and they started playing.”
“We were just a little too short, too late,” she said.
On the other hand, the Tigers (18-11-2), who lost no one from 2008’s championship squad, wanted to show people that they deserved their second straight district title, according to Excelsior Springs coach Terri Irons.
“We struggled here in the last couple of weeks with some consistency (problems),” Irons said. “And tonight, they really stepped up.”
Should the teams meet again in the 2010 title match, the Eagles are “in the process already” of staking their championship claim, according to sophomore middle hitter Elise Gouldsmith, who finished with 10 kills.
“I just think we need to keep working in the offseason, just keep working hard and stay focused,” Gouldsmith said.
Grain Valley led early in the first game, but Excelsior Springs stayed in control after breaking a 5-5 tie. Leading 17-14, the Tigers sealed it by outscoring the Eagles 8-3 down the stretch.
The Eagles rallied from a 4-0 deficit to make the second game a seesaw affair. The Tigers overcame the Eagles’ last lead, 27-26, by winning the final three points to advance to sectionals this weekend.
Peterson and Gouldsmith agreed that the Eagles struggled during their 25-22, 26-24 semifinal win over Marshall.
“I think we almost looked past it,” Gouldsmith said. “We didn’t take care of business like we needed to. It was a really, really slow match.”
EXCELSIOR SPRINGS 25-25, OAK GROVE 13-18: No. 6-seeded Oak Grove finished 3-23-2 after falling to Excelsior Springs in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Panthers coach Amber Evans said. “We’ve had a tough schedule. We played hard. We just have a tendency to beat ourselves, instead of letting the other teams beat us.”
Looking to 2010, Evans said: “I’ve got quite a few girls coming back and we should be more experienced next year. But we’re going to miss our seniors.”
The Panthers will lose four players to graduation – Britney Grittman, Taylor Vickers, Brianna Frank and Briaana Schnakenberg.