OTTAWA — The Labette Cardinals are still winless, now 0-5 overall, to start the season after a 3-1 (16-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-20) road loss to Ottawa JV on Wednesday. 

The Cardinals won the first set in dominating fashion but failed to capitalize on the momentum, continuing a trend set at last weekend’s Fort Scott Tournament.

“We just weren’t able to connect it all together. We came out really dynamic in the first set and stuck to the gameplan. But we fell apart after that when Ottawa came out swinging,” Labette head coach Haley Miller said.

Freshman Alexis Kapales led Labette with 12 kills while adding five digs to her night’s tally.

“She held her own,” Miller said. “She was one of our main point-scorers. She’s one of the only kids that I have that’s on the court for six rotations. She’ll keep getting better as the season gets going. She’ll be an impact kid.” 

Labette County High School graduate Laci Strickland, also a freshman, had her best game to date with eight kills on the night for the Cardinals. Strickland has battled back from offseason ankle surgery to find her way into Labette’s rotation.

“We changed her footwork the other day in practice and it started to click for her,” Miller said. “She changed the momentum at times for us, but we weren’t able to hold onto it as a team.”

Ania Howard, one of the two platooning setters for Labette, led her team with 15 assists while adding 15 digs.

“She had a great game and played defense where I needed her to,” Miller said. “She’s stepping up big time for us this season.” 

Tessa Newman paced Labette with 21 digs. As a team, the Cardinals tallied just three blocks on the night.

“We’re going back to the fundamentals,” Miller said. “Our serve-receive has been off the last few days. So we’re trying to fix some things there.” 

Labette resumes its season next Wednesday as the Cardinals host Allen in both their home opener and KJCCC opener.

Allen has played the exact same schedule as Labette up to this point, going 3-2 with wins over the Cardinals, Seminole State and Ottawa JV. Next Wednesday’s matchup will be another litmus test of two programs that finished at the bottom of the KJCCC standings a season ago and are in the midst of rebuilds.

“We’ve got to focus on us,” Miller said. “We’ll watch film on Allen and learn their moves. We’ll focus on our aspects and handle it from there.” 

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