Tonganoxie High volleyball battles through for 4-set victory against Eudora in rematch of 2015 substate
After the Tonganoxie High volleyball team lost the third set of its best-of-five match to Eudora on Thursday, THS coach Tiffany Parker wasn’t sure how her team would respond in the fourth set.
Tonganoxie lost a lot of the momentum it gained in taking a 2-0 set lead, but more importantly, the team would have to fight through fatigue after a tough match with Lansing just two days earlier.
However, the Chieftains responded just as Parker hoped they would and dominated the fourth set on their way to a 26-24, 25-16, 22-25, 25-14 victory against the Cardinals in a rematch of last year's substate championship clash. THS was the victor again, as the Chieftains improved to 1-1 on the season.
“We committed to playing the entire match,” Parker said. “To be engaged the entire match and to not allow ourselves to be tired. We didn’t wear out in the fourth set, which could have happened. Our mental game and our confidence are getting better.”
The Chieftains needed that mental game, because there was certainly a chance for them to get rattled late in the first set. With the Cardinals leading 22-21, one of their serves hit the net and dropped just out of reach of senior Emily Hummelgaard.
That came one point after an unusually short serve dropped in almost the exact same place. But the Chieftains were able to rattle off the next five points and won the first set.
“The motto we always go by is ‘next play,’” Parker said. “You can’t change it, so move on to the next play. Things aren’t always going to go your way or the way you think they should. So how are you going to respond? If we dwell, we lose.”
Senior Mykah Wingerter, who Parker said, “played very well and is owning her position,” had the spike at the net that clinched the first set. One of the biggest reasons for Tonganoxie’s success in the first set and in the rest of the match was its blocking at the net, of which Wingerter was a major part.
“I thought our blocking was really key tonight,” Parker said. “The mental part of getting blocked will shut a team down quickly. Because of our blocking schemes, we were able to mentally take them out of the match.”
After a routine second set, the Chieftains weren’t able to put the Cardinals away in the third. Like the first set, the Chieftains didn’t dwell on it, and were able to play some of their best volleyball in the fourth set.
However, the Cardinals kept it close early. The Chieftains led just 10-8 midway through the set, and it looked like they would have their work cut out for them to avoid a fifth set.
But Tonganoxie ended the match on a 15-5 run, thanks in large part to five big serves by junior Audrey Miller that helped them run away with the fourth set, 25-14.
“She’s another one who is very mentally strong,” Parker said of Miller. “Her experience in other sports carries over. She’s still young and has things to improve. She knows that. But she’s competitive enough that she’s going to do that.”
Although Parker said the Chieftains still have to improve their passing, she likes the progress they’re making. Tonganoxie faced Atchison for the first home of the season after The Mirror's deadline on Tuesday. The team also is at home Thursday against Baldwin.