Sure, it was just a preseason volleyball jamboree. But it certainly meant something more to Lee’s Summit.
The Tigers made the biggest impression when the three city schools met Aug. 19 at Lee’s Summit North for a game-like scrimmage. Even more so considering where the Tigers were last year. Lee’s Summit not only took two games from North, it also won one against powerhouse Lee’s Summit West and nearly beat the Titans in the other.
“I thought we played pretty well tonight,” first-year Lee’s Summit coach Julie Carver said. “Did we play our best? No. But our confidence is going to continue to build.”
When Carver took over the Tiger program, she expected the team would need a confidence boost after suffering through a 7-24-2 season last year. And the Tigers definitely got on this night. Each team played two games against the other, with the score 4-4 at the beginning and capped at 25.
Lee’s Summit began with a 25-23 win over West, which was a Class 4 quarterfinalist last season. The Tigers trailed most of the game before tying it at 23-23. And they came within 25-24 of the Titans in the second game.
“That was huge,” Lee’s Summit senior Hailey Criswell said of the win over West. “I almost started crying. I was so happy.”
The Tigers concluded with 25-23, 25-24 victories over North. While pleased with her team’s effort, Carver wasn’t ready to read too much into it yet.
“I think we’re going to be able to compete with these teams,” Carver said. “That’s our goal. We’re probably not going to play that well every night, but we’ll have nights when we play better than that.”
West coach Lori Hanaway believes her Titans will play better than they did in their two scrimmages. Besides struggling against the Tigers, West also dropped a game to North 25-19 before taking the second game 25-24.
“We didn’t play very well,” Hanaway said. “When you’re playing cross-town rivals you want to do all the little things right and we didn’t do very many things right at all. We just had a lot of errors.”
Beating West was also a highlight for the Broncos, who were 14-17-1 last season. But after two weeks of practices, coach Rhea Moses said her team was just ready to play a game and see where they stood.
“We have some good elements to our game but we have some work to do, obviously,” Moses said. “I knew it would be tooth and nail between the teams. This is a great jamboree to start out with.”
The season starts for real for all three teams next week, with Lee’s Summit going to Park Hill and West playing at Raytown Aug. 25 and North traveling to Park Hill South Aug. 26.
Lee’s Summit will begin with a new and improved outlook.
“We’re tired of losing, I think,” Criswell said.