Teamwork keys Cards run
The Eudora volleyball team (7-0) made a major statement this week. A dominating performance Thursday was followed by two amazing battles Tuesday -- each day distinctively different yet equally effective in the Cards' attempt to pursue a state tournament berth this season.
Eudora's big week began Sept. 9 with matches against Pomona and Perry-Lecompton. The Cards set the tone for the night with a 25-10, 25-15 romp of Pomona. Eudora followed with a 25-6, 25-9 pummeling of Perry.
"Dominating," Stutler said. "We had great teamwork. We really worked the ball around and everyone got involved. We were aggressive and had much better blocking.
"It was a big confidence-booster for us."
That confidence was put to the test Tuesday at the Cards' home-opener. Eudora welcomed Ottawa with a stunning 13-25, 27-25, 25-18 victory. The Cardinals followed with a gutsy 25-23, 25-20 triumph over Wellsville.
Eudora jumped out to an early 5-3 lead against Ottawa. But the Cyclones responded with a 7-0 run that set the tone for an amazing period of dominance. Ottawa cruised to a 25-13 game-one win.
The Cards were flat defensively, passed poorly, and looked a little shell-shocked. The Cyclones, on the other hand, were tremendous defensively, crisp passing the ball and seemed immensely confident.
Ottawa carried its momentum into the second game, jumping out to a seemingly insurmountable 10-0 lead. At that point the Cyclones had won 32 of the match's last 42 points.
But that's when the magic began. Freshman Nikki Snider ignited the impossible comeback, driving a kill through the previously impassible Ottawa blocking. Eudora managed a modest 3-2 stretch, narrowing its deficit to 12-3. The Cyclones appeared to stretch the lead back to 10 at 13-3, but an illegal back row attacker call against Ottawa reversed the point to Eudora. The two-point swing sparked an amazing run, culminating in a 19-19 tie.
Six lead changes followed before Eudora secured the comeback and a 27-25 game-two win.
"What I told them before the second game, which apparently did not work, was that they need to show some fight and some pride in their school and that no matter what, they have to go out and play hard," Stutler said. "They're fighters, but I wish we wouldn't put ourselves in such a hole.
"But I saw a lot more unity in the girls as the night progressed, which was huge."
Eudora completed the momentum-driven match with a convincing 25-18 game-three win, leaving the Cyclones in a whirlwind.
Ottawa's defensive dominance early in the match was clear, as was its effect on the score was also clear. But it was Eudora's defensive presence down the stretch that ultimately earned it the match.
"As the night went on it was the best defense we've played," Stutler said. "We've been pushing that the last couple of weeks. Defense can win on a night like this. Plus, it gets their hitters frustrated on the other side of the net when there's always someone there."
The Cardinals' ability to wage great comebacks has been a distinctive characteristic during the past couple seasons. But so have slow starts.
"I just think that part of our problem is that we're just slow starters," Stutler said. "We're that way in practice as well. We get out of it though because we have the confidence that we've done it before and we can do it again.
"That's a double-edged sword, though."
Ottawa entered the night with one loss on the season. That defeat came at the hands of Wellsville. But the Cyclones avenged that loss later in the night, battling for the win 25-22, 25-23.
As for Eudora's match with Wellsville, there were no great comebacks -- just really good volleyball. The Cardinals earned a hard-fought victory over a tenacious Eagles team that finished the night a disappointing 0-2.
"We were better in our rotation and working angles better to keep them off-balance," Stutler said. "We also did a better job taking out the middle hitters, which kept them frustrated."
Eudora survived its first big test at home and in the process confirmed its contender status.
"It's a big relief," Stutler said. "We knew it would be hard. We showed a lot of character as a team which we haven't seen a lot of. There was more unity between the girls and that's what got us where we were tonight.
"Our league is so tough; you have to be ready every Tuesday."