Cardinals hope to pick up momentum as end nears
Things were going exactly as planned for the Eudora volleyball team. The Cardinals racked up big wins against Frontier League foes Baldwin and Louisburg and were well on their way to enjoying Senior Night the right way. Then Paola came along and messed it all up.
Eudora won two of three matches Tuesday night and finished third in Saturday's De Soto SpikeFest, but Eudora coach Jill Stutler said it would be hard to get over letting the seniors' last home match slip away.
"It's a tough way to end your senior year on your home court with a loss," Stutler said. "I'm sure it's not how they wanted to finish."
Prior to the Paola match, things were going great, Stutler said. The Cards had dominated Baldwin in both games, winning the first one 25-14. Senior Erin Kracl showed how she'd wowed the Cardinal fans over the years by opening the second game with one of her signature powerful swings.
Kracl finished her final home match with 36 kills, one behind junior Nikki Snider's 37.
The Cards won the second game 25-12.
Eudora had little trouble in its second match of the night either, facing off against Louisburg. Both games in that match too resulted in wins as the Cards won 25-11 and 25-12.
Coach Jill Stutler said the Cards were playing at the top of their game in those two matches.
"We consistently did what we need to do," Stutler said. "We hit the ball well and moved the ball around the court."
But then, things started to sour for the Cards.
In the third match, the Cards were unable to play at the same tempo Paola was, Stutler said.
"We just did not get our feet to the ball in time," Stutler said. "In the first two matches, we blocking. This time, we just were not blocking."
In all, the Cards played three games against the Paola Panthers, losing the first 25-18 and winning the second 25-23. In the third game, the Cards started off with a com manding lead of five points, but Paola fought back from the deficit and ended up besting Eudora 25-20.
Stutler said the Panthers were consistent with their delivery and the force they used against the Cards. She said the speed and regularity of the Panthers' attacks proved to be the Cards' demise.
Panther Brittney Miller also proved to be a test for the Cards. The speed and force of her kills proved to be too potent for the Cards to defend.
The loss came right after the Cards' third place finish at the De Soto Spike Fest on Saturday.
Eudora swept its way through pool play, defeating De Soto 25-13, 25-22; Basehor 25-11, 25-17; Baldwin 25-7, 25-10 and Jeff County North, 25-16, 25-10.
Similar to Tuesday, the Cardinals weren't as smooth finishing things off, however. Eudora lost to Tonganoxie for the second time this season, falling 22-25 and 18-25 in the semi-finals. Then the Cards struggled to put De Soto away in the consolation match. Eudora went on to beat the host Wildcats for the second time on the day, but it took one more game than it had that morning. Eudora won 25-22, 20-25, 25-19.
"Our positive was in the first game against Tonganoxie, we came out of fire," Stutler said. "We just had a couple of rotations we couldn't get out of quick enough toward the end. (The girls) proved to themselves they could do it though, and that was important."
It was even more important that Eudora was able to start building that confidence with a new lineup. Haley Epperson went out for the year last month and Elaina Kouri missed some of Saturday's latter action with an ankle injury.
Kouri returned, but Stutler said her team has been able to find some new faces to pick up some slack.
Despite being new to the starting varsity squad, Kendal Abel had really stepped up her level of confidence and was effectively performing, Stutler said.
"Kendal is playing a lot more confidently," Stutler said. "She needs to be more consistent with her passing, but each game she is increasing her level of confidence with her play."
The Cards have one more quadrangle tournament before sub-state and state play begins. The Cards will play again at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail.