Lady Bobcats snubbed by Kaw Valley League coaches
Last year the Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball team went 8-24 and had one player, Chelsey Patton, get an honorable mention for the all-Kaw Valley League awards.
This year the Lady 'Cats went 17-18, and probably expected a bit more.
Instead the league coaches voted the same way, giving Patton an honorable mention and leaving the rest of the Bobcats off the list entirely.
Any coach would hope to see more players rewarded after such dramatic improvement, but BLHS coach Tammy Zydlo tried to be gracious about the results of the league meeting.
"I walked away a little disappointed, but as one of the other coaches told me, it's a tough league," Zydlo said.
The league included three elite teams in Tonganoxie, Santa Fe Trail and Lansing. They dominated the all-league first team this year, with the Lady Chieftains getting four selections and the Lady Chargers and Lady Lions getting three apiece. Those three teams took 10 of the 14 all-league spots.
That ultimately pushed Patton onto the honorable mention list for the second year in a row and left Zydlo's other nominees, Cassie Lombardino and Brooke Sanders, empty-handed.
Zydlo said that only playing some league teams once this year might have made it hard for her players to show their improvement and break old prejudices about BLHS. She noted that the SFT coach never got to see Sanders play because the junior was injured the one time the Bobcats faced the Chargers.
Still, it seemed like a bit of an injustice.
"Irregardless, I thought they both deserved more looks," Zydlo said of Lombardino and Sanders. "I think Brooke is one of the top setters in the league. She's all over the court and I can't believe other coaches don't see that."
Lombardino improved her hitting tremendously this year, but it wasn't enough for the league coaches. Her increased impact was noted by some , though, including the Ward coach. That coach told Zydlo that she didn't even remember the Bobcats had a 6-foot-2 player and that when Zydlo and Lombardino first entered the gym she was hoping they were a mother-daughter coaching tandem.
"I told her I'd take that as a compliment," said Zydlo, who actually has two preschool-age children.
Although Patton was pleased with getting another honorable mention, she said she wished she could have shared the honor with her teammates.
"We made so much progress," Patton said. "I think each and every player put a lot into this season and I wish everyone on the team could have gotten something."
Still, there's not much the Lady Bobcats can do about it, except come back next year and have the kind of season that the KVL coaches won't be able to ignore. With all but one player returning, they have a golden opportunity to do so. Some of the players who have been mainstays on the all-league lists for years, like Tonganoxie senior Ali Pistora, will graduate, opening up more spots for the Bobcats' budding stars, and there are many.
Lombardino, Sanders and Patton are just part of an outstanding junior class that came into it's own this year. That class also includes a third solid hitter, Michelle Chrisman, up front with Lombardino and Patton and two top-notch defensive players in Ashley Jeannin and Jennifer Sirridge.
"I do hope they have a sense of urgency next season," Zydlo said of her group of talented seniors-to-be. "They've already said they don't want to talk about being seniors because it means their careers are coming towards the end."
Despite all the returning talent on the court, the most important returner may be on the sidelines. The current group of juniors have had three different coaches in three years, but Zydlo said she's going to end that streak. She's excited about her future at BLHS and plans to be around next year and beyond.
"I am coming back to coach volleyball at Basehor-Linwood," she said. "Wild horses couldn't keep me away."
That's great news for everyone involved in the program. With so many talented athletes coming back, and with all of them familiar with Zydlo's system, next year's all-league list is likely to have a lot more hyphens in it, and not because of Perry-Lecompton.
"I'll keep reminding them of this," Zydlo said of the current all-league selections. "We will use it as motivation next year."