Eudora dominates opening quad
The ugly debacle that unfolded in the lobby of Salina's Bicentennial center took place nearly 10 months ago.
Finally the Eudora volleyball team took its biggest step yet in putting the controversy that forced them out of the Class 4A state playoffs behind it.
It started a new season, seemingly with a chip on the shoulder.
Eudora destroyed the competition in its season-opening performance Tuesday in Eudora, routing all challengers. Erin Kracl had 22 kills as the Cardinals swept Basehor, 25-10 and 25-19, Bonner Springs, 25-16 and 25-5, and Baldwin, 25-7 and 25-12.
"We've all been anxiously waiting for this night to come," Eudora coach Jill Stutler said. "We finished better than we started it off. That's what we look for."
True, the margin of victory did improve as the night went on, but even Basehor, Eudora's first opponent, didn't fare well.
The Bobcats only hope came in the second game. After handling the first game with ease, 25-10, Eudora stumbled out of the gate in the second.
Basehor jumped to a 12-7 lead before the Cardinals could respond.
Sophomore Nikki Snider answered with a kill to make it 13-9 and freshman Haley Epperson served four straight points, notching one ace, to cut the gap to 13-12.
Basehor stretched the lead again, making it 15-13, but Kracl added several kills and Eudora grabbed the lead, 16-15.
Basehor rallied again, tying the game when a Cardinal volley bounded off the out of bounds antenna. The game tied at 17, and again at 18 before Eudora finally put it away.
Epperson and Snider each added kills as the Cardinals surrendered just one more point, winning 25-19.
"We started slow," Kracl said. "Our first and second matches were kind of rough."
The second match against Bonner wasn't as close. Eudora grabbed a 13-4 lead in the first game, although the momentum was halted briefly. The Cardinals closed it out easily however, winning 25-16.
The second game was a steamrolling as well, 25-5.
But Eudora played the best in its final game.
Facing rival Baldwin City, Eudora was unstoppable, going up 10-3 then 18-6 en route to a 25-7 first game victory.
The second game was a little closer -- Baldwin fought to within one point, 7-6, early. But, the Cardinals scored seven straight points and 13-of-17 at one point to wrap up their powerful day.
"We did a better job in the Baldwin match of running our offense and find our tempo," Stutler said. "We kind of struggled early in some of the other games, playing to their potential and their strengths instead of our own. Our goal was to progress through the night, and we did that."
There were plenty of kills to go around, but Kracl dominated.
The 5-foot-9 junior was one of Kansas' top players as a sophomore, earning all-state honors, and is well on her way to defending that honor.
"Erin's court presence has gotten so much better since last year," Stutler said. "She's our top gun. When she's on, and everyone else around her is balancing the passing and the setting, everyone's on fire."
Eudora now faces seven long days before it can vent any more frustration. The Cardinals next match is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at Perry-Lecompton High School.