Cats cool after season’s hot start
The good news -- and the bad news -- is that the De Soto volleyball team can point at itself to explain a disappointing showing at a weekend tournament in Lansing and a 1-2 record at a Central Heights quadrangular.
It's bad news that the Cats followed up their 3-0 start to the season with a 1-6 week. But De Soto coach Junelle Woolery said it's good news that De Soto didn't often get out-played.
It's good news that when it was all over, she labeled small mistakes as the biggest problems and focus -- not talent, heart or determination -- as the thing most lacking.
It wasn't a good week, Woolery said, but even after admitting that, she said she saw a much better team taking shape -- one that may be able to avoid such weeks later in the season.
"A lot of the points we gave up was us making the mistake," Woolery said. "We have a tendency to think about things too much and we put too much pressure on ourselves."
Woolery said the worst part wasn't ending the week with just one match victory, rather it was watching the team fight to stay in a match, pull close against good competition, then quickly fall off and lose in two games.
De Soto dropped its first game at Saturday's tournament to Lansing, falling 25-17. The Cats then lost an even closer game, and the match, falling 25-23 in the second game.
Kansas City Piper edged out 25-19 and 26-24 wins and finally it all amounted to too much as De Soto struggled mightily against Washburn Rural, losing 25-11 and 25-20.
"I know the girls are frustrated because they're giving their hearts and their souls," Woolery said. "They get something going and then we can't quite finish it. It is pretty frustrating, but I'm proud of the effort."
The Cats still managed to bounce back, however, and played their best volleyball of the day against Spring Hill. De Soto struggled in the first game, falling 25-12, but won their first game of the day 25-17 to force a third game, and led much of the way through that contest as well.
The Wildcats jumped to a 4-0 lead and led 17-14 before Spring Hill roared back to tie the match at 18. The Broncos knocked out four-straight points to take a 21-18 lead and scored 11 of the final 14 to beat De Soto 25-20.
De Soto started things right Tuesday night with a two-game match victory over Central Heights, 25-15 and 25-18. The Cats then fell to Tonganoxie 25-12, 25-16 and to Paola, 25-13, 25-23.
"We played better (than Saturday,)" Woolery said. "We were communicating a lot better. That was definitely a concern during the Lansing tournament."
Woolery said the girls now must take advantage of a schedule that offers some real benefits.
De Soto will have plenty of opportunity to work on all that ails as the Cats will go nine days without a competition, and once they do return to the court, they'll play three of their next four competitions in their own gym.
De Soto is next in action Sept. 21 at a home triangular, then faces a trio of league opponents Sept. 26 in a home quadrangular.
Finally the Cats will host the annual Spikefest tournament Oct. 7.
"We really struggled with passing and getting our setter a good pass," Woolery said. "We need to work in practice, but a lot (of success) is going to come by just pushing through it, by getting that win when it's close. That's not something you can teach -- it's something they have to experience."