Varsity volleyball takes down Mill Valley in ‘Dig Pink’ game

Emma Bascom, Editor-in-Chief

The De Soto High School varsity volleyball team got its last regular-season win on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at the ‘Dig Pink’ game against the Wildcats’ rivals, Mill Valley High School in three sets, 25-19, 22-25, 25-20.

In the first set, DHS got off to a strong start fueled by sophomore outside hitter Kaitlyn Bell and sophomore middle hitter Ally Barnhart, who got two kills to start the game. Mill Valley rallied quickly, however, and managed to take the lead. Sophomore all-around player Loren Hinkle was able to string together a few serves and get several kills which allowed DHS to regain momentum and stay in control for the remainder of the game. The Wildcats were able to hold on and take the win, 25-19.

In the second set, DHS took an early lead due to several missed opportunities and unforced errors on Mill Valley’s end of the court. Mill Valley was then able to tie the game at 15 due to service errors on DHS’ end. However, sophomore libero Maya Bascom and sophomore defensive specialist Kendall Schmitt were able to hold down a solid back row that allowed the Wildcat offense to put together some key plays that gave DHS several opportunities that they could not take advantage of. The Wildcats’ solid defense was not enough to make up for the errors on De Soto’s part and they took the loss, 25-22.

Because of the upcoming Sub-State tournament, DHS and MVHS opted to play the best two out of three instead of the usual best three out of five, making the third set was a must-win for DHS. In the beginning, DHS started off very slowly. There were more errors and the Wildcats couldn’t seem to catch a break. Then, Hinkle managed to string together several serves to tie the game at 13 and then take the lead, 16-14. Mill Valley retaliated and took advantage of more DHS errors and made the game close again, but DHS still had the lead 21-20. In the end, DHS made a late push and took the last four in a row because of senior middle hitter Jackie Kennard and all-around player Haley Cuba’s kills. DHS was able to finally push through and get the win, 25-20.

Head coach Lindsay Hothan was very excited for the team because so many students came to the senior night rivalry game to show support.

“There was a lot of buildup going into tonight. The girls wanted it. It’s Dig Pink, it’s senior night, so there were a lot of emotions tied into the game, and it feels really good to get the win. I’m really proud of the girls—they showed a lot of heart, resilliancy, mental toughness, and those are things that we’ve been focusing on the last couple of weeks, so it was great to see them put it out here on the court,” Hothan said. “I also seriously want to thank every single person who showed up because that meant everything. It meant everything to these girls. I love our showing of school spirit, I love everybody who came out to show support. I wish it could be like that every single match because they’re huge. They helped to keep our momentum going, and I’m just really happy that they came to support.”

According to Kennard, the win was very bittersweet because this was her last regular-season game as a senior.

“Some of my best friends are on this team and we had such a great season, so it’s really hard to leave, but I had a lot of fun,” Kennard said.

Hothan agreed that there were many mixed emotions with the game, saying “senior night is always bittersweet. The girls that we’ve had—Jackie, Kenzie, Kirstin—they’ve been fantastic. They each have their own roles and are a crucial part to this team. They’ve been a fantastic group to work with, so it means a lot and I hope that we can finish strong at Sub-State.”

For the team, the win was important because in the last game that they played, the team beat Spring Hill High School in four sets to take the league championship title and go undefeated in league. This was also the last game that the team played before Sub-State on Oct. 22.

“It’s a great way to go in to Sub-State. It was really competitive, and that was really good for us. We really wanted to win tonight, so I think that, knowing that we won, then carrying that over into this weekend is really good for us,” Kennard said.

Hothan agreed, saying that “…I think this is a big confidence booster, beating a team like this. Really applying the things we’ve been talking about—the mental toughness, the resiliency—and being able to have that. We were tested with those things tonight. So it’s a confidence booster and now we just have to switch our focus to Saturday.”

Kennard has high hopes for the team’s performance at Sub-State.

“I’m really excited. I really think we can do it this year. We’re ranked one overall and we have the best record,” Kennard said. “We knew that this game was going to be tough, and we’re still on adrenaline and carrying that over, I think we’re going to play really tough. We also know how important Sub-State is to each of us and playing for our teammates, so the energy that we’ve got is really good.”

           The team plays Harmon High School in the first match of 5A Sub-State. If they win that game, they must play the winner of Saint James versus Blue Valley Southwest to get to State, which will occur the following weekend.