The Fly Route
As sporting weeks go, this was an awfully good one for De Soto.
It wasn't a gold mine for every team, but both the soccer and volleyball teams showed signs of life after what seemed like dimming hopes.
The volleyball team went 1-2 in a home quadrangular Thursday. It's not exactly the kind of record that will catapult a team toward post-season dreams or even turn a mediocre regular season around.
In those matches it looked like a different Wildcat team than the one that last played in the area earlier in September, though.
De Soto opened the season with two easy wins against small schools. Ever after that, the Cats struggled. It wasn't just that they lost both their matches when they played Sept. 11 in Paola. It was that they looked clueless -- not all the time, but too often. Players stared at one another, wondering who was responsible for a certain area as the ball landed right in the disputed spot.
It was an entirely different team Thursday. De Soto beat and contended with real schools, teams of similar size and probably more experience.
The clueless factor that hung over the team like a fog two weeks prior was blown away as the Cats looked confident and proud.
The team doesn't have any seniors on its varsity roster, and just three juniors. It looked like it added at least a year of experience in its time off, however.
It still needs a consistent hitter to go along with freshman Laura Lambert, De Soto coach Jenny Barnhart said. The team also still needs to establish more consistency.
It won't all happen this season, but the progress is sure to continue. De Soto is in the middle of a two-week break from competition. It will be exciting to see what the Cats look like when they return.
The soccer team also came a long ways this week. De Soto has struggled across the pitch. The defense has been better since Zach England was moved to sweeper -- not that it was ever overly bad. Finally it appears the offense has caught up, or at least advanced enough to let the team win games 1-0 or 2-1.
De Soto scored six goals Thursday in beating Spring Hill. That's the kind of score the Cats would regularly post two years ago, and even more in the years before. They haven't had any such easy wins in 2007, however. The closest was a 4-1 victory against Baldwin, but that came thanks to two late goals. Before that, the best victory the Cats had was a 4-0 beating of tiny Maur Hill in the opening round of last season's playoffs.
That was easily the easiest win of 2006.
But by piling on Spring Hill, De Soto finally did want it has wanted to do for the last two years -- recall memories of its best teams. It's been far too long since this team had fun like that.
By handling a very tough Bonner Springs team on the road, the team showed it could be more than just one game, too.
Bonner could have easily won Tuesday. The Braves could have been up 2-0 after the first half, but De Soto's defense held tough, took advantage of the breaks when they came and finally shored up the defense for a big second half.
The Cats can take a huge step Thursday when they welcome Maranatha to town.