Cardinal volleyball bounces Basehor, Bonner and Baldwin
The Cardinal volleyball team traveled to Basehor-Linwood Tuesday to open Eudora High School's 2003 fall sports schedule. There the Cardinals matched up against Basehor, Bonner Springs and archrival Baldwin.
Eudora kicked off its season in an especially impressive fashion, winning all three matches, including a three-game thriller with Baldwin.
Eudora defeated Basehor 25-10, 25-16. The Cardinals then handled Bonner Springs 25-9, 25-14. And in the night's final match, Eudora outlasted Baldwin 13-25, 26-24, 15-9.
"A little heart wrenching," said head coach Jill Stutler following the final game against Baldwin. "It's a little scary though, because we know (Baldwin's) going to be after us now."
That fear is out of respect.
Baldwin presented a very intense test this early in the season. The Bulldogs went 31-10 a year ago, earning a trip to the state tournament. They possess a precise and balanced attack and feature one of the league's most recognizable and feared players in six-foot-two-inch senior Emily Brown.
Baldwin showcased its veteran striker early as the Bulldogs rushed out to an early 4-1 lead. The team slowly built its lead to 17-12.
At that point, six-foot Cardinal senior Lauren Kracl tallied Eudora's final point of the game with an open-court kill.
Leading 17-13, the Bulldogs scored eight straight, cruising to a 25-13 game.
The Cardinals were virtually untouched during their first four games against Basehor and Bonner Springs. The Baldwin setback could have been devastating to Eudora's confidence.
Instead the Cards responded with a stubbornness befitting a team that believes it could win a league championship.
Eudora surged to an 8-2 lead in the second game. From there the Cardinals just held on.
Baldwin, who also defeated Basehor and Bonner Springs with relative ease, was now the team dealing with adversity for the first time this year. They too conjured up enough will to battle back in the game.
The Bulldogs eventually tied the game 19-19 and then took the lead 23-22 on senior Cheri Rowland's ace. But Rowland followed her ace with a serve into the net, tying the game at 23.
Kracl produced a couple of powerful spikes down the stretch, and Eudora eventually took the game 26-24. The win forced a decisive third game.
Both teams by this point were emotionally drained. The question was which team still had something left in the tank.
Baldwin came out strong, taking a 3-1 lead. But this was the Cardinals' night. When Brown's served sailed long at 3-2 the Bulldogs saw their last lead of the night disappear.
The Cardinals took control and confidently marched on, winning the game 15-9 and the match two games to one.
It was a very big step for this young team.
The underlying storyline anytime Eudora and Baldwin face each other is the battle between Kracl and Brown. Both were named to the Lawrence Journal-World's all-area team last year, and they also happen to be good friends. (The Eudora News and Journal-World are owned by the same parent company.)
On this night Kracl gained bragging rights.
"I think (Kracl) is now starting to feel like she's comparable to (Brown), and that's a huge step for our program," Stutler said. "She has the same weight (Brown) does when she steps out on the court. Teams fear her, and that's what we need."
Kracl didn't do it alone, though. In fact she may not be the player that she is without the sensational setting of her teammate, sophomore Kelsey Epperson. The two have what Stutler called a "nice rhythm."
In addition to Epperson, Kracl and the rest of the Cardinals relied on a new face Tuesday. That face belonged to Lauren's freshman sister, Erin Kracl.
Erin was not allotted the luxury of an easy transition into big-time high school volleyball. Instead she had to tangle with Brown and Baldwin.
Erin seemed to rise to the occasion when she was needed most, appearing to gain confidence with every strike of the ball. She scored the final four points of the Basehor match and had a critical kill at 9-7 in the final game of the Baldwin match.
Eudora now sets its sights on Perry-Lecompton and Pomona in Pomona Sept. 11.
The Eudora High School junior varsity volleyball team traveled to Bonner Springs Sept. 2 to face Bonner Springs, Basehor-Linwood and Baldwin City.
The team won its match against Basehor-Linwood and lost two matches to Bonner Springs and Baldwin City.
The Cardinals travel to Pomona Sept. 11.