Lady ‘Cats pull off the upset
Seventh-seeded Basehor-Linwood volleyball squad upends No. 2 seed Sumner at sub-state
The Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball team gave its fans a glimpse of the future by pulling off the biggest upset of Saturday's sub-state tournament at Tonganoxie. The Lady Bobcats, seeded 7th, took down the 2nd-seeded Sumner Academy Lady Sabres before losing to Tonganoxie in the second round.
Basehor-Linwood was one of the youngest teams in the sub-state field on Saturday, but was battle-hardened after a full season in the Kaw Valley League.
"It's hard to be in a tough league during the season, but it pays off when you get here and play people from different leagues," BLHS coach Kristen Anthony said.
Indeed, though the Lady Bobcats' 7-23 record was nowhere near Sumner's mark, the talent level proved to be pretty even, as Basehor-Linwood won 25-22, 19-25, 26-24. The Lady 'Cats came out fast, with Brooke Sanders setting well and the whole front line hitting at a high percentage.
"We had a lot of energy and we're always better when our energy is up," Anthony said. "Once we hit one or two good ones, we're usually good to go."
Losing the first game seemed to give the Lady Sabres a sense of desperation, as they won the second game and the first five points of the third. Anthony called a time out and her team responded by tying the game 6-6 on two kills by Breanna Beebe. Sumner then ripped off a 7-0 run and Anthony was forced to call her last timeout. It was gut-check time for BLHS.
"I told them it was up to them, we've called our second timeout and we don't have another," Anthony said. "The coaches can't come out there and do it for you."
Fortunately for Anthony, they didn't need to. In the next 20 minutes the young Lady Bobcats grew up fast, showing a resilience that Sumner couldn't match. Two blocks by Beebe cut the deficit to 17-16 and the Lady Sabres spent a timeout. But by then, BLHS was rolling, and when Sanders served an ace for the 26th point, the comeback and upset were complete.
"When we called timeout we talked about focusing and that if we wanted it bad enough we'd have to dig deep in our hearts and pull it out and we did that," Sanders said.
Beebe led the Lady Bobcats with 9 kills in the match, but it was a balanced attack. Michelle Chrisman had 8, Chelsea Patton had 6 and Cassie Lombardino had 5. Sanders racked up 18 assists. Anthony also praised the defense, which was led by Ashley Jeannin and Jennifer Sirridge.
"I thought our digging was a lot better than usual," she said. "As far as getting to stuff and keeping it off the floor in the middle of points I thought we were a lot better tonight."
Basehor-Linwood had momentum after its upset victory, but it wasn't enough to overcome KVL rival Tonganoxie. The Lady 'Cats played well, though, even holding down Tonganoxie's versatile star, Ali Pistora. Beebe blocked big hits by Pistora three times early in the match. But the Lady Bobcats had no answer for Tonganoxie sophomore Sami Franiuk, who dominated the match with 11 kills and 4 aces.
Still, when their backs were against the wall, the Lady 'Cats battled. The second game ended with them on the short end of a 25-23 score. The season was over, but the strong finish showed how far the team has come and guaranteed that a first-round victory next year won't be nearly as surprising.
"We're going to be really competitive next year," Sanders said. "We'll all have played together longer, we'll be mostly juniors and two seniors. It's been a tough year, but it will be worth it next year."