While the Labette Cardinals showed signs of life at times against the Fort Scott Greyhounds in Wednesday’s second KJCCC match of the season, the final result read the same as the first 11 matches for the Cardinals.
Fort Scott, which has lost just once this season, swept Labette 3-0 (25-18, 25-10, 25-19) to drop the Cardinals’ record to 0-12 overall and 0-2 in KJCCC play. The Greyhounds improved to 16-1 and 3-0 respectively.
“We came out really well in the first set,” Labette head coach Haley Miller said. “We got down a few points in the second set and that ended up setting the tone. Consistently, second sets have been our worst all season long.”
While Labette’s offense had struggled to almost unprecedented lengths in recent matches — at last weekend’s Fort Scott Tournament, the Cardinals had a negative hitting percentage in three of four matches — the Cardinals posted a positive .119 percentage on Wednesday night.
“There was a lot of positive from tonight,” Miller said. “We were able to hang with a top conference team. We’ve just got to be able to hold our own and keep ourselves together. We’ve got to come out ready to fight.”
Alexis Kapales led Labette with 10 kills while committing four errors for one of her more efficient nights of the season. The freshman also had 10 digs.
“She played a lot smarter tonight,” Miller said. “She wasn’t just swinging for the back wall. She was going up and making the smart decision.”
Laci Strickland was second on Labette’s roster with six kills against the Greyhounds. The Labette County High School product has seen an uptick in her playing time in recent matches.
“She’s been a lot better at keeping her head and handling her business lately,” Miller said. “She got a lot of touches on blocks and got some nice kills as well.”
Rileigh Vail, an Oswego product who mostly rode the bench in the early part of the season, has also found her way into the rotation. Against Fort Scott, Vail had two kills and 11 digs.
“She held us together and really did her job tonight,” Miller said. “She went up and put some balls away and was able to chase balls down as well.”
While Labette remains winless on the season, Miller saw the team move the needle.
“We’ve had a lot of obstacles thrown our way this season,” Miller said. “Every day, the girls are coming in and competing as hard as they can through the changes being thrown at them. It’s all starting to click. It’s just coming later than other teams.”
Labette will host a triangular on Saturday along with Southeast and Allen. Allen will face Southeast at 1 p.m., followed by Labette taking on Southeast at 3 p.m. then the finale of Labette against Allen at 5 p.m.
“We’re going to focus on winning our first match,” Miller said. “That’s our only focus right now.”