Team turns on power in tough quad
The De Soto volleyball team struggled and lost the first two matches of Tuesday's Santa Fe Trail quadrangular to a hail of rocket-quick kills.
The Cats only managed to turn the night around and win the final match when they rolled in some firepower of their own.
De Soto lost in two games to both Santa Fe Trail and Eudora, but rallied after losing the first game to Gardner to win the next two and ensure it would be entering Saturday's sub-state tournament on the right note.
"I was telling everyone that if we didn't win, let's at least have fun, and we definitely had fun," senior Jackie Goleman said. "(Winning the last match) was to build up our confidence. Everyone believes in our team and we'll be fine going into Saturday."
The victim of hard-hit balls in the first two games, the Wildcats turned the tables on Gardner as Goleman, Kayla Bader and Lisbeth Rosales offered their hardest swings of the nights.
The Cats lost the first game to Gardner, 25-19. De Soto was behind 11-7 early, but a pair of Bader kills helped the Cats crawl within one at 13-12. The Trailblazers hit a hot streak to put the game out of reach, however, stretching the lead to 22-14 before putting it away.
Gardner carried that momentum into the second game and it appeared the Cats could be doomed to three two-game losses. Bader tied the score at 12 to get De Soto back in it and the Cats scored four-straight points after a 15-15 tie.
Another Bader kill put De Soto up 22-19 and a Goleman block ensured the match would go to three games, De Soto winning 25-23.
It was all green in the third game.
De Soto opened with an 8-0 lead and stretched it to 11-2 before Gardner showed any sign of life.
The Trailblazers fought to within two, 12-10, but De Soto scored four of the next five points and eight of the next 10, thanks to a rash of hard swings from Goleman.
The Wildcat senior notched four of the final eight points of the match before fellow senior, Sydney Tenney, put the game away with a little defense.
Tenney corralled a Gardner shot right at the net, falling to her knees to keep it in the air. She quickly bounced back up, took a pass from a teammate and sent the final point back over the net, giving the Cats a 25-17 victory.
"That was a good way to end it," Woolery said. "All three of the teams were very strong teams, so we didn't have any margin for error. We played hard all night long and to win the last one is a great momentum builder."
Now Goleman said the Cats need to display that same style of play in the sub-state tournament. The easy answer to Tuesday's problems was that the Cats were too often faced with well-hit and well-placed attacks that no defense could stop.
The in-depth solution, Woolery said, comes down to the same thing the team has been trying to do all year -- pass better.
"When we passed the ball well, we were able to put it down," she said. "When they're bringing it hard and we have to just bump it back over, they'll eventually get one hard and get it down on you.
"(Against Gardner) we were able to set it up and hit it down on them, so we weren't always eating the ball."
The tournament is set to begin at 2 p.m. Saturday in Spring Hill. De Soto, the fifth seed, will face Spring Hill in the first match.