Eudora To think that Manhattan Christian drove all that way just to be on the under card almost seems unfair.
With all due respect to the team from the Little Apple, the first two matches of Tuesday’s volleyball triangular were not what fans traveled to the Eudora Community Center to see.
As a result, those four games went quietly, with Veritas Christian sweeping Manhattan, 27-25 and 25-15, and Seabury Academy falling, 25-13 and 25-13.
Those sparring matches set up the main event, as Seabury and Veritas both played inspired points in a closely contested battle between Lawrence’s smaller high schools. In the end, Veritas had too much for Seabury and the Eagles topped the Seahawks, 25-20 and 25-13.
“The game plan tonight was strong fundamentals,” Veritas coach Kristen Oberzan said. “I really challenged the girls to not just swing as hard as they can but to look to score and to play smart volleyball.”
It may seem hard to believe, but Tuesday’s result actually produced positive vibes on both sides.
For Veritas (4-6), the elation came from playing with energy and solid execution.
“We were pumped up, we were ready to go,” Veritas hitter Shelby Holmes said. “And we just went for it. As a team, I think we’re really starting to gel.”
For Seabury (2-6), the silver lining was drawn from the fact that their five-point loss to Veritas in the opening game was one of the best all-around games they’ve played this season.
“I haven’t really seen that from them all year,” Seabury coach Chrissy Leuty said. “And I was very impressed with our energy and our emotion. I was happy to see that. Now we just need to find a way to bring it every night.”
The showcase match played out in typical fashion for both teams. Veritas, which relies on intelligence and teamwork, shuffled around the court in a cohesive manner all night. Because the Eagles’ passing and setting were good, their play at the net was outstanding, as Holmes, Sarah McDermott and Teri Huslig unleashed some big-time swings at the net all night.
“We talked all day during school about killing the ball whenever we could,” McDermott said. “It was partly that and partly passion that got it done.”
Oberzan said the Eagles did not stress a more powerful game but were happy to unload when the opportunity presented itself.
“Tonight we just happened to have more opportunities at an open net,” Oberzan said. “But the biggest strength of this team is our teamwork and I thought that really showed tonight.”
The Eagles jumped out to sizable leads in both games. But after three kills from Holmes pushed the Veritas lead to 11-6 in the opener, Seabury fought back.
A couple of Veritas mistakes and two kills from Angela Thomas pulled the Seahawks to within two, at 11-9, and the game remained close the rest of the way. The two were tied at 17-all, 18-all and 20-all, before Veritas went on to win, 25-20.
“I feel like we wanted this a lot more,” Thomas said. “And we were excited to play against our rivals.”
Leuty said that Alyson Oliver deserved high praise for her first go-around as the Seahawks’ setter and that Jessica Babcock and Charlotte Burch delivered strong and consistent hitting, passing and serving throughout the night.
Although the rivalry has not yet fully developed, nearly every player on each team indicated that they felt like something bigger was at stake during Tuesday’s match.
“We try and get pumped up and we really want to beat them, but I think it’s definitely more of a friendly rivalry,” Holmes said.
Added Thomas: “It’s intense, but not like you see with the public schools.”
During the final match of the night, the Seahawks fell victim to what has plagued them throughout the season — a lack of self-confidence. After falling behind early, 10-5, Seabury was knocked out by an 8-3 Veritas run.
“That’s been our problem all year,” Leuty said. “We get down five or six points and it’s lights out. We need to understand that in rally scoring five or six points is nothing. With us, it’s all mental; the physical tools are there.”