Opinion: Volleyball team on its way
The Basehor-Linwood High School volleyball team is on the rise, and you can tell by the way the Lady Bobcats reacted to Saturday's sub-state loss to Tonganoxie.
They were disappointed, somber and a bit angry. It was a marked change from last year, when they also lost to Tonganoxie in the second round.
Last year the Lady Bobcats seemed happy just to get to the second round and earn a chance to play the powerful Lady Chieftains. This year getting out of the first round was treated as more of a formality and the match against Tonganoxie was the one the Lady 'Cats were really gearing up for.
That shows how much the mindset changed this year, a year that saw the Lady Bobcats double their win total and finish just short of .500 at 17-18.
The new attitude among the Lady Bobcats is that it's their turn.
They've waited long enough, they've been through their youth movement and their coaching changes and now it's time for the rebuilding to end. It's time for them to take their place among the area's elite teams, the Tonganoxies, the Eudoras, the Santa Fe Trails.
Sub-state wasn't the only place I saw this new mentality.
Late in the season the Bobcats finished sixth out of 10 teams in the De Soto tournament. It was a middle-of-the-pack showing that I think the team would have been satisfied with in past years.
But when asked about it this year Brooke Sanders, without hesitating one second, said it wasn't good enough. Sanders wanted to be in the tournament semifinals, competing with the final four teams, which included Tonganoxie and Eudora. Playing for fifth place against Spring Hill was not what she or her teammates had in mind.
The Lady Bobcats are on their way to those big stages and I think they'll reach them next year.
Yes, losing Lindsey Kraemer and her reliable presence in the back row will be tough. But they return as much experience and athletic ability as nearly any 4A team in the state.
The bulk of the team will be seniors, which should lend a sense of urgency to the season. For many players it will be the last chance to win tournament trophies and get to state.
To compete with the big volleyball powers the Bobcats will have to smooth out a few things next season.
They'll have to improve their timing and communication and become more consistent. But those are things that often develop with the stability of having the same coach for more than one season.
In terms of sheer talent and athleticism, all the pieces are in place.
Considering how dominant Tonganoxie has been against BLHS recently, you'd think that the Lady 'Cats would want nothing more to do with them. But for some, next year can't come soon enough.
Chelsey Patton seemed to speak for everyone on the team when she said that she wanted to face the Chieftains again, that she wanted to prove her team could compete with the best.
"I would love to play them until we win," Patton said. "I want to beat that team so bad."
That's the new mindset for the Basehor-Linwood volleyball program.
And it's going to make next year pretty exciting.