Chieftains beat BLHS for 3rd time in 3 days
When Tonganoxie High’s volleyball players took the court Monday evening for the finale of a home triangular, they saw some very familiar faces peering back at them through the net.
The Chieftains squared off with rival Basehor-Linwood for the third time in three days (and fourth time this season) but didn’t let that familiarity negatively impact their approach. After starting the evening with a 25-20, 25-4 defeat of Perry-Lecompton, THS finished things off by sweeping the visiting Bobcats, 25-19, 25-22.
Tonganoxie (24-10) played — and swept — BLHS twice on Saturday at the De Soto Spikefest, but co-coach Brandon Parker said the players weren’t thinking about their most recent meetings with their rivals when they played Monday. Instead, Tonganoxie focused on a Kaw Valley League dual on Sept. 13, when Basehor won at THS.
Parker said it can be tough to play the same team so many times in such a short span, but he was glad the players didn’t lose focus.
“Luckily for us, we remembered the September 13 game and we kept remembering it,” he said. “So that was enough motivation for us in this situation.”
What’s more, Parker said the players mostly avoided the trap of getting too psyched up for the match and having that work against them. He said there were only a handful of times when the players got too keyed up, because they wanted to beat BLHS.
“We had a few moments of that, where we were gonna try to hit the ball through the court, so we had some hitting errors,” Parker said.
Overall, he thought the Chieftains did a nice job of trying to stay level on an “emotional night.”
Co-coaches Brandon and Tiffany Parker agreed that everyone had their moments for Tonganoxie in its two home sweeps. For instance, Haley Smith, Jenny Whitledge and Brooklyn Kerbaugh served the ball well in stretches, as did Sagan Scates.
Three players up front — Kailan Kuzmic, Kerbaugh and Whitledge — helped THS avoid losing a single game. Brandon said the team’s biggest swingers had a significant impact.
“It was hard for either team to stop Jenny tonight. And, really, Kailan as well,” he said.
In the meantime, Tiffany pointed out, Kerbaugh stood out with her play above the net, limiting opponent attacks.
“Brooklyn really controlled the net, defensively,” she said.
None of those players would have had an impact, Brandon added, without the help of their teammates.
“Kailan and Jen were tough hitting the ball, and for that to happen, we’ve got to have passes and Sagan getting them the ball,” he said. “We had a lot of kids do small things that won’t show up in the stat columns — just doing things the right way.”
As an example, he pointed to Madee Walker, who was playing with some soreness.
“Tonight, Madee Walker’s got a kind of a bum wing, and she still ran to shots and made people watch her, and that left Kailan and Jenny with the ability to really swing away.”
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, Tonganoxie plays host to Bishop Ward.