Volleyball team’s league title hopes deflated
The Frontier League volleyball championship was within the Eudora Cardinals' grasp Tuesday night in Paola. But the Cardinals watched an early lead dissipate and eventually lost the match -- and their hopes at a league title.
Paola won the three-game match 23-25, 25-21, 25-20.
Eudora (23-5) sandwiched the Paola loss with a 25-14, 25-10 win over Louisburg and a 27-25, 25-23 triumph over Baldwin, completing the three-game season series.
"We started out really strong against Louisburg," Eudora coach Jill Stutler said. "We played extremely well.
"Against Paola, we kind of started out slow. But we battled back, played some good defense and got some big blocks that really helped us get over the hump in the first game.
"We went out on a tear in the second game and built a six-point lead. But then they went on an 8-0 run and got back in the game. We got timid after that and we let their big hitters back in the game that we had shut down. What it was is that we just didn't finish.
"We played behind the whole time in the third game."
The Cardinals have shown a pension for getting themselves out of jams during the past couple years. Unfortunately. they've shown a similar trend in allowing other teams back into matches.
"What we need to do, when we're executing like we did in the first game against Paola and things are really going our way, is do a better job of finishing," Stutler said. "When they're down, keep them down. We had them against the ropes and we let them off.
"We went in knowing we could take it, and we just didn't follow through."
The key characteristic in Eudora's surrendered leads is the team's timid response to sudden adversity.
"That's a problem from last year," Stutler said. "When that girl went on that 8-0 run, you could see us play more timid. We let balls through us and lost our dominance at the net. I can tell them they can do it and that they've got the talent, but it comes down to executing it. We've got to do a better job of handling the challenges."
Stutler's still searching to find the solution.
"If I had the answers, I'd sleep better at night," Stutler said. "Each player needs to dig deeper and find that special spot inside. If we do that with this team, the possibilities are limitless.
"Hopefully last night will fuel the fire for the rest of the season. We'll be training for the next week and a half like it's our last day everyday."
Although the league title is currently out of the Cards' hands, there are still plenty of goals to achieve, beginning with securing second place.
"We still have to position ourselves to secure second place in league," Stutler said. "We've got some big matches coming up next week.
"Going into the McLouth tournament The Eudora Middle School eighth-grade football team came up short Oct. 12 at Gardner and fell 22-8.
Wheatridge put together two scoring drives in the first half to take a halftime lead of 14-0. Coach Phil Katzenmeier said the rain and wet field made it tough on both teams.
Wheatridge took a 22-0 lead early in the second half before Mike White broke loose on a touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. After Ryan Fisher scored on a two-point try, the lead was cut to 14, but the score remained 22-8 at the end.
The junior varsity team will travel back to Gardner on Thursday, and the final game is at home Tuesday against Ottawa.