Breakout volleyball season ends with BLHS at 17-18
The Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball team had its most successful season in a long time this year.
The progress that the squad made in going from 8-24 in 2005 to 17-18 in 2006 helped take some of the sting out of a sub-state semifinal loss to Tonganoxie on Saturday, Oct. 21.
For the second year in a row, the Lady Bobcats' season ended when they ran into Tonganoxie at sub-state. The Lady Chieftains beat the Bobcats 25-13, 25-13 and went on to take second, losing to Holton, the tournament hosts.
The Lady Bobcats, seeded third, had no trouble with their first sub-state opponent, sixth-seeded Hiawatha. They jumped out to a 20-12 lead before their leading hitter, Cassie Lombardino, had even recorded a kill. Instead they got three early kills each from Michelle Chrisman and Elyse Douglas and two back-to-back from Kara Douglas.
Meanwhile, the team's only senior, Lindsey Kraemer, was frustrating the Hiawatha offense, getting three early digs on balls that looked like sure kills. Kraemer was determined to extend her time with her teammates as long as possible.
"I was really excited to be here, and get the opportunity to play with everybody," she said.
Once Lombardino got into the act, with two kills to help close out Game 1, Hiawatha was done for. The Lady Bobcats rolled 25-14, 25-13.
The victory gave them the privilege of playing the new Big Red Machine, Tonganoxie, in the second round. The Lady Chieftains were the second seed, and came into sub-state with a 30-8 record. They had defeated the Bobcats in all their meetings this year and knocked BLHS out of the playoffs the year before.
The Bobcats hung in early, down just 9-6, but Tonganoxie's balanced attack began to wear on them. The Lady Chieftains went on an 11-3 run that turned the momentum squarely in their favor. They would go on to win both games 25-13.
"They're a very good, well-coached team and they have some great hitters," Zydlo said. "I think next year we'll be in a better position to compete against them."
Kraemer will be gone next year, but she was a valuable part of this year's turnaround team, which more than doubled the win total from the previous year. By helping establish Zydlo's system this year, Kraemer built a foundation for future success.
"I think it went really well," Kraemer said of her final high school season. "We improved so much from last year, and I'm really proud of that."
Zydlo said she was also happy with the progress the program made in her first year, but that she wasn't satisfied yet.
"We had a lot of high highs and we had some times when we wished we did better," Zydlo said. "But I saw a lot of improvement from a lot of girls and we're really excited about next year."
Zydlo added that she was glad to have so many of her players returning, because it's a group that she thinks has a lot of potential.
"At the end of the season, after sub-state, I felt like I could have coached for another two or three months," she said.
For the many returning Lady Bobcats, the next step is clear. They want a shot at a regional championship and a trip to state next year, even if Tonganoxie stands in the way again. In fact, junior Chelsey Patton said she'd jump at the chance for a little revenge.
"I would love to play them until we win," Patton said. "I want to beat that team so bad."