Home court no cure for Cats
An inexperienced De Soto volleyball team opened the season exactly the way an inexperienced team is supposed to. Poorly.
Weeks of hard work began to pay off for the team during the middle of the season, the squad improving noticeably with every outing.
Then it all took a step back.
Playing at home first Saturday in the De Soto SpikeFest tournament, then Tuesday in a Senior Night triangular, the Cats dropped six consecutive matches.
"We definitely have some things to work on," De Soto coach Jenny Barnhart said. "We need to get rid of our mental errors. When you have seven serves and five are errors, you aren't your going to put yourself in any position to win."
The Cats didn't threaten in either of its two matches Tuesday, falling to Ottawa 25-17, 25-16 and Spring Hill 25-16, 25-8.
Barnhart did say she liked what she saw early against Ottawa, especially considering the effort came on the heels of an unsuccessful Saturday. The Cats fared about as well Tuesday as they did in a Sept. 20 showdown against the Cyclones.
They fared considerably worse than they had earlier this season when it came to Spring Hill, however. De Soto pushed a Sept. 8 triangular to three games, but Tuesday could only compete in the first.
The Cats tied the first game at 10 and were within one, 13-12, before Spring Hill put together a long run. The Broncos scored 12 of the game's final 16 points, and it carried right on into the second game.
Spring Hill built an 11-0 lead and eventually made it 16-2, a 28-6 run when stretched between the games.
"It's been a disappointment," Barnhart said. "A lot of teams are peaking and a lot of teams are playing their best ball at the end of the season.
"We're still battling consistency."
De Soto won't have to wait long for either rematches with Tuesday's opponents or opportunities against high-profile teams. The Cats travel Saturday to the Frontier League tournament in Baldwin. They'll see both Ottawa and Spring Hill again. Class 4A's No. 3 team, Paola, will be in the field, as well the defending state champion, Eudora.
"This league is really tough," Barnhart said. "We have to speed up our offense and give ourselves opportunities. We have to give ourselves opportunities to show what we are capable of."
The team plays Oct. 20 in the regional tournament, another place where it will encounter a lot of the same faces, including Eudora, and St. James, which won Saturday's SpikeFest tournament.
"You have to have your game on Oct. 20. Going in, any team can be beaten any day," Barnhart said. "We've heard that cliche forever, but what happens on the 20th is what matters."