FORT SCOTT — Labette Cardinals head coach Haley Miller expected her team to walk away from the Fort Scott Tournament with plenty of lessons learned, but also with at least one win to its credit. 

Instead, losses on Saturday to Allen and Seminole State leave the Cardinals 0-4 to start the year and rapidly in search of answers.

“It definitely stings,” Miller said. “It shows we have a lot to work on. We have to clean up our side.” 

On Saturday morning, Labette fell in straight sets to Allen by a score of 3-0 (25-12, 25-21, 26-24). Allen and Labette were the bottom two finishers in the KJCCC last year, so Saturday morning’s match provided a litmus test for how each program’s rebuild is progressing.

Katelynn Wissman led the Cardinals with 10 kills against Allen with Zhanisha Tounsel adding seven. Ania Howard paced Labette with 14 assists while Alexis Kapales led with 14 digs.

Labette finished off its stint at Fort Scott with a five-set loss to the Seminole State Trojans. The Trojans won 3-2 (16-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6). The Cardinals got a lopsided win in the first set and battled to a two-point win in the third set but couldn’t capitalize on that momentum to notch the victory.

“We need to focus on keeping a more positive attitude,” Miller said. “We got up, but then we slacked off because we thought they were going to just lay where we left them. We need to keep positive energy and stay aggressive at the net.” 

Kapales had 15 kills to lead Labette against Seminole State as well as 12 digs. Hannah Spriggs had 17 assists, while Newman added 18 more digs. 

Miller pointed to her team’s approach on the frontline as to an ongoing trend that needs to be corrected.

“Right now, we don’t have consistent hitters on the front row that want to put the ball away,” Miller said. “One hitter will be hot one game, another hitter another game. We need two to three hot in one game and put it together.” 

Labette volleyball has perpetually rebuilding and Miller remains optimistic that the program can take tangible steps in the right direction. But the winless trip to the Fort Scott Tournament nevertheless felt like a setback.

“I feel a little bummed and defeated,” Miller said. “But at the end of the day, the coach can only call timeouts and make substitutions. The girls have to figure out how to play together.” 

Labette resumes its season on Wednesday with a trip to Ottawa JV before returning to Parsons for its home opener on Sept. 4 against Allen, which also serves as the Cardinals’ KJCCC opener.

“We’ve got to focus on our hitters,” Miller said. “We’ve got to be consistent there. We also have to play at a better rhythm. This conference is fast-paced, so we have to keep up.” 

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