From a one-loss St. Paul team dropping three of its four matches to a dominant Labette County squad taking first place, there was no shortage of surprises and strong performances at the 43rd annual Chanute volleyball tournament on Saturday.
Here’s how four local schools fared in the field of eight teams that flocked to Chanute over the weekend:
The Labette County Grizzlies (25-3) continued to illustrate why they are one of the more unstoppable teams in the area by taking first place.
Despite falling to the Girard Trojans in three sets to open pool play, the Grizzlies rebounded strongly, rattling off four straight wins to pick up some hardware.
“This tournament win was a total team effort,” Labette County head coach Heather Wilson said. “We needed our whole bench, cheering section, parents and squad to finish first. I was thrilled at how we adapted throughout the day to the different styles of play and finished strongly in the championship match.”
In the Grizzlies’ two other pool play matches against Coffeyville and St. Paul as well as the semifinals against Frontenac, Labette County came out on top in all six sets and never allowed more than 18 points.
The Grizzlies rematched the Trojans in the finals of the tournament and didn’t let a difficult second set distract during their 2-1 (25-17, 29-31, 25-17) victory.
Labette County’s Anna Dean finished with nine kills, 18 digs and six blocks in the championship match.
“We were missing our starting middle, Ashantae Smith, so I am very proud of Addison Rexwinkle, Therann Moore and Sage Davis for coming in and giving us 100% to fill that spot,” Wilson said. “We passed, blocked, and dug so much better against Girard the second time we played them.”
Led by solid performances from three seniors, the Erie Red Devils (7-15) cleaned up some early mistakes to finish 2-2 on Saturday and secure a fifth-place finish in the tournament.
“Josie (Jacquinot) led the team with 19 kills on the outside,” Erie head coach Rachel McIntyre-Hulin said. “Ryleigh (Brant)’s defensive coverage and team spirit kept us together. Hailey’s quick feet and amazing jump sets made each pass an opportunity to score, bringing her up to 49 assists.”
The Red Devils opened the day with a 2-0 (25-14, 25-20) defeat at the hands of Frontenac before falling in straight sets in a hardfought match against Chanute to wrap up their pool play.
“I thought we were equally matched against Chanute,” McIntyre-Hulin said. “That impressed me the most, as far as how we played. We gave a lot of personal errors away, which is what lost us the game.”
From there, Erie played much more sharp to bounce back with consecutive wins over Jayhawk-Linn and Coffeyville and split the day’s four matches.
Along with strong outings from the three seniors, the Red Devils got some help from Makenzie LaRue’s 11 total blocks and Chellby Cosby’s three aces on the day.
“I think the girls really came together more as a team than they have previously,” McIntyre-Hulin said. “We had a couple of freshmen come who weren’t part of our original lineup to help with team support.”
Although the St. Paul Indians boasted a near-perfect 22-1 record when they entered the tournament, the Class 1A program struggled against a field of much larger schools and finished 1-3 to take seventh place.
For St. Paul head coach Mark Haight, a deep tournament like Saturday’s is an opportunity for his players to face some adversity and learn how to improve from that challenge rather than shying away from it.
“This gives us an opportunity to evaluate where we’re at as a team and how we are as individuals,” Haight said. “The ball’s going to be served at you a lot harder, it’s tougher to make passes, you’re going to see a lot of double teams when you’re hitting. Those are all some of the things you’ve got to work on and get better.”
It didn’t help the Indians that they were slated to face Labette County and Girard, the top two teams, as two of their four opponents. St. Paul dropped both of those matches in two sets after an opening 2-1 (20-25, 25-14, 25-23) loss to Coffeyville. The Indians earned their lone win of the day in straight sets over Jayhawk-Linn in their final match.
Through the day’s matches, Elise Doherty recorded a team-high 18 kills and tied with Josey Harris for a team-high 15 blocks.
“We still have that foundation as a very strong team,” Haight said. “I know these girls will get those things that took place this weekend worked out and get rolling like we have been.”