Netters rack up five wins at Wellsville tourney
The Eudora Cardinals volleyball team (21-4) amassed an 8-1 record in a brief four-day period last week. Eudora ended a seven-day lay-off Saturday with the Wellsville Invitational Tournament in which the Cards tallied five wins and a third-place tourney finish.
Eudora began pool play with Pomona. The Cardinals cruised 25-15, 25-9. Eudora followed with a 25-15, 25-6 beating of Osage City, a gritty 25-23, 25-15 victory over Metro Academy, and a bashing of Baldwin 25-16, 25-7.
The Cards met Waverly in the semi-finals of bracket play. Eudora lost its first of the day 23-25, 25-17, 18-25.
Eudora rebounded in the third-place game with a win over Metro Academy 22-25, 25-16, 25-17.
The Cardinals hit the road again Tuesday for a quad at Anderson County. Eudora dispatched the host school 25-14, 25-18. The Cards then held off Spring Hill 25-20, 25-22 and Central Heights 25-9, 25-16.
The success of Eudora's third-place finish at Wellsville was amplified by events preceding the tourney. Starters Brooke Bell and Carrie Lister both went down with ankle injuries. Reserves Paige Schultz, Jessi Stewart and Laura Williams were pressed into pivotal roles.
"Considering the week of chaos we had last week with two players going down, 5-1 over the weekend was pretty great," head coach Jill Stutler said. "Our core kids really held everyone together and played at an exceptional level.
"I couldn't have been more pleased with the kids that stepped in. They were just kind of thrown in the fire with limited practice time. They really stepped up when they had their chance with the ball."
Endurance was a key issue in the Cards' two losses at Tonganoxie the previous week.
"I think they knew going in that they needed to minimize the games played," Stutler said. "We really focused on winning in two games so we would not wear out by the end of the day. And it was a long day.
"We went three games against the last two teams but we got out of pool play just playing two. And that's a huge factor."
The Wellsville tournament offered Eudora another opportunity to battle rival Baldwin. And for the second time this season the Bulldogs had no bite.
"I think that any time you face a team like Baldwin, when you've had the past that we've had, you never know how it's going to turn out," Stutler said. "I told the kids before the match that they'll be gunning for us.
"It was nice to battle through that and get the win in the fashion that we did."
The Waverly match followed the Baldwin beating."In the two games we lost to Waverly we just didn't execute like we needed to," Stutler said. "There were too many mental mistakes that cost us too many points. But those are very correctable mistakes.
"We needed better ball control, and we didn't have enough touches of blocks. They had one hitter that pretty much killed us. We made runs when she was in the back row but didn't do enough when she was in front."
The loss set up a rematch with Metro Academy for third place.
"We got off to a slow start in the first game still carrying over some of the mental mistakes we had with Waverly," Stutler said. "We started to push the intensity in at the end and took their two hitters out that had hurt us before. And we made much stronger runs.
"Erin (Kracl) was huge in the second and third games with some big blocks."
Tuesday night in Garnett, the Cards parlayed the Wellsville success into a solid performance.
"We got three big wins that help us in league," Stutler said. "We were a little uninspired with our play, but we got Carrie back, and that helped spark us a little bit at times, especially against Spring Hill.
"We were just a little too quiet on the court.
"Nikki Snider did a nice job, corrected some mental mistakes, and had some pretty good net play."
That sets the stage for a big showdown Tuesday in Paola with the Panthers, Baldwin and Louisburg.
"We've kind of figured it will come down to us and Paola right now," Stutler said. "They lost to Gardner Tuesday, and so we both have one loss in league. We're going to treat it like preparation for sub-state. We're going to work on handling the pressure.
"We're going to work hard over the next few days to be ready for Paola and whatever they throw at us. But we still need to do our job against Baldwin and Louisburg."