De Soto can’t survive sub-state
For the second time in a week the De Soto volleyball squad found itself matched up with the Eudora Cardinals.
The Cats hosted the Cardinals Oct. 18 on senior night in De Soto and on Saturday found themselves in a semi-finals match-up with the number one seed in the sub-state tournament.
Unfortunately the results were the same for the Wildcats as they fell to the eventual sub-state champs 25-22, 25-16.
However what was fortunate was the repeat effort given by De Soto (22-16) as they gave the Cardinals everything they could handle before their season came to an end.
De Soto entered the tournament having improved on many levels of its game from a year ago, and as a number five seed faced off in the opening round against the fourth-seeded Piper Pirates.
A year ago it was the Pirates who ended the Wildcats' season in the first round of the tournament.
And the improvements carried over.
The Wildcats defeated the Pirates 25-23, 25-22 in two matches that went down to the wire.
Game one saw both teams fail to muster multiple points on serve and the game was knotted up at nine.
The Wildcats made the first mistake with some miscommunication, allowing the Pirates to slip ahead 13-9.
Piper kept up the pressure and held the Wildcats at bay and breached the 20-point mark first at 21-18.
But De Soto was not finished.
Junior Jackie Goleman put together back-to-back kills to pull the Wildcats even.
Sophomore Kayla Bader and senior Sam Johnson took control on serves to give De Soto the lead.
Senior Lauren Hampton put the finishing touches on the game-one win with a kill.
Game two mirrored the first match as the two teams traded points once again. But this time it was De Soto who opened up the three-point lead.
And unlike Piper, they kept it.
The Wildcats used strong play at the net to keep the Pirates from duplicating their own comeback in the first match.
"We were looking forward to Piper all year," senior Jessica Blankenship said. "We knew we could come here and play and we put together a good effort to beat them."
The win advanced the Wildcats to a semi-final showdown with Eudora, who brushed aside Bonner Springs in round one.
The Wildcats pulled no punches in game number one against the Cardinals as they handled everything Eudora could throw at them.
De Soto ran parallel with the number-one seed and tied the game at 16. The Wildcats took a brief one-point lead before Eudora moved in front by as many as five.
But the Cats clawed back once again as Bader snagged the team three-straight points on serve to pull within two.
However, that would be as close as the Wildcats would get as the Cardinals closed out the game and took the advantage 25-22.
"They're such a good team," Blankenship said. "We had things going early in the first game but we made too many mistakes. That gave them the confidence and the momentum back, and in this game confidence and momentum are everything."
In game two the Wildcats were seemingly out of gas as the Cardinals jumped out to an 8-5 lead and never relented.
Eudora widened their margin by as many as eight before finally putting the game away 25-16.
The Wildcats went home with the feeling they had played the best, and for the departing seniors the best is what it was all about.
"I really enjoy playing them," senior Lauren Hampton said. "When we play them, they bring out the best in us and we played our best today. The girls coming back can get there if they just work hard and give it their best."