DHS volleyball battles 6A foe on Oct. 6

DHS volleyball battles 6A foe on Oct. 6

Emma Bascom, Associate Editor

De Soto High School volleyball played Shawnee Mission East High School on Oct. 6 and lost in four sets: 25-23, 27-25, 7-25 and 24-26.

The four game match was filled with ups and downs and surprises from both teams.

The first game started off incredibly strong. There were powerful blocks coming from the 6-foot- freshman Ally Barnhart, senior Molli Shriver and junior Jackie Kennard.

The team seemed to feed off of the energy provided by four blocks in a row by Barnhart, and the offense improved as a result.

Senior Aubri Hinkle once again proved herself as a powerhouse hitter on the team with key ball placement, ball control on attacks and court awareness.

Freshman Kaitlyn Bell also showed that she was a force to be reckoned with. Bell got several kills that showed an upswing in energy and confidence for the whole team.

Along with great offense, the first game also highlighted the defensive specialists in freshman Maya Bascom and senior libero Kylie Corneliusen.

Sophomore Mady Smith also made an appearance as a part-time setter. Having played on the JV team for most of the year, Smith got the opportunity to play up on the varsity level. Smith proved herself worthy early on by utilizing her hustle in the setter’s position–a key contribution.

The Wildcats played to their strengths and used their chemistry to prevail with a final score of 25-23.

The second game was different.

DHS took an early lead of 10-6, and some saves by Bascom and Corneliusen helped the Cats keep their heads above water.

Miscommunication early on among teammates was quickly resolved–sometimes as early as the next point. The Cats refused to point fingers at other players when a ball would drop.

There were several defensive highlights in the game, as well.

Freshman Kennedy Higgins, Bascom and Corneliusen all had incredible, fade-away, one-armed saves in the game, allowing the team to keep the ball in play and ultimately, get the point.

However, SME started noticing gaps in the middle of the court when the blockers went up.

SME started coming away from their power hits and used more off-speed hits and tips to get their kills.

With several Division-1 commitments on the team, DHS knew SME was going to be a difficult game. However, they did not realize how smart they would play.

Intelligent ball placement and impeccable setting on SME’s side proved to be the difference.

The final score of game two was 25-17, in favor of SME.

Game three, it appeared an entirely different team had taken the court.

Miscommunication, lack of court coverage and awareness and lack of energy cost DHS an early lead, sometimes the deficit being as large as 18.

There were sparks of intensity in the game–for instance, Bell nearly took a hit off of her face, but ended up utilizing her quick reflexes and got a save on the play.

However, sometimes these great defensive plays were not communicated offensively, and vice versa.

Corneliusen made a dive, yet DHS couldn’t seem to finish off the point. Furthermore, Hinkle had an intense hit that could not be relayed defensively when the ball came back, costing DHS crucial points and resulting in a plateau of energy.

“In that third game, we just got down,” Bell said. “We needed to keep our energy up to keep winning, and we just couldn’t seem to figure it out.”

DHS took a loss on game three, 25-7.

The fourth and final game of the night proved another change in heart of the DHS team.

The team seemed to gel again. Communication was back for the Wildcats, and they showed a lot of fight in coming from behind.

Barnhart and Shriver once again came out on top with several crucial blocks that confused SME’s defense.

The play that turned the tides of the game was late: Higgins had a one-armed save, Bascom dove and barely got a hand under the ball to keep it alive, and Aubri Hinkle ultimately took the ball over the net.

After this, Bell had several kills that brought energy back to the crowd and team.

The game finished as a nail biter; the Wildcats took another loss in extra points, with the final score 26-24.

Even though they took a loss, the Wildcats have decided to keep an optimistic outlook.

“The end was great,” Bell said. “We should have been playing like that the entire time. If we had played like that the whole game, I believe we could have beaten [SME]. We definitely have the potential.”

Bascom knows what her team can do in the future, and is choosing to look at the game as not only a learning experience, but as something to be proud of.

“I think that today, we played our butts off. We hustled and gave it all we had, and I think that really shows what Wildcat volleyball is all about,” Bascom said.