Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Friday, Sep. 21, 2012

Blazers take aim at volleyball power

The Kansas City Star

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Two years ago, the Gardner Edgerton volleyball cleared a huge hurdle for the program by knocking off St. Thomas Aquinas.

Nearly every Trailblazers senior noted the breakthrough Tuesday during Senior Night festivities.

Gardner Edgerton finally eclipsed Washburn Rural – another of the state’s elite programs — earlier this season too, but East Kansas League and Kansas 5A power Bishop Miege remains a stumbling block.

The Blazers, 12-4, who play today in the Tonganoxie Invitational, have played the Stags tough for quite some time, but that has yet to translate into victory.

The latest near miss came Tuesday with a 25-23, 25-23 loss at home before Gardner Edgerton bounced back to 25-27, 25-23, 25-18 win against Blue Valley to salvage a Senior Night split.

“It’s definitely mental at this point,” Blazers coach Darrell Wait said. “The last three years we’ve had (Miege) at 23-25 some time when we’ve played them. We just have to finish. I think we were up 19-13 in the second set, but couldn’t quite get it done tonight.”

Much like the rivalry with the Stags, Gardner Edgerton is on the cusp of elite status.

“We’ve lost a couple close ones that have been heartbreakers, but we’ve played well,” senior outside hitter Cassie Wait said. “We’re going to be – well, we are a great team – but we have all the potential in the world. It’s a matter of putting it together at the right times. I have faith in every one of us that we’ll step up and win some of these close matches.”

The Blazers finished third at the Kansas 6A state meet last season and have an eye on bigger things this season.

“We have a shot at (winning state) definitely, but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said Cassie Wait, who leads Gardner Edgerton with 4.7 kills per game. “We have to take every game as it comes and compete our hardest. We’re not always the biggest or tallest or most-skilled team. Our team chemistry is phenomenal, but we have to work hard to keep things going.”

Junior Jill Starling is good for 3.1 kills per game, while Wait and senior Mackenzie Skeens are the Blazers’ top passers.

“When we serve-receive well and we can get single blocks on the outside, we’re pretty effective,” Darrell said. “My outside hitters will get kills against a single block, but it all goes to serve-receive. If we pass the ball, we’ll be just fine.”

Now healthy, Falcons soccer gathers steam

Injuries and illness slowed Olathe South’s boys soccer team early in the season.

Midfielder Ryan Hill, for one, didn’t take the field until this week, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We had one game where we had five starters out against Shawnee Mission North,” Falcons coach Will Stoskopf said.

Olathe South dropped games against Park Hill South and St. James Academy, while also settling for a 2-2 draw with SM Northwest among the first six games.

But the Falcons seemingly got on track this week, handing Olathe East its first loss of the season Tuesday and then blanking Olathe Northwest two days later.

“The first five or six games, we weren’t 100 percent, but we finally got everybody back and that makes a big difference,” Stoskopf said.

Sitting at 5-2-1 midway through the regular season, Olathe South, which has trailed in every game this season except shutout wins against SM North and Olathe Northwest, now seems positioned to make a run at repeating as Sunflower League champions.

Junior forward leads the cardiac Falcons with nine goals this season, while senior Clay Stewart has five goals and five assists.

Olathe South plays Raymore-Peculiar for fifth place in the Olathe Soccer Tournament at noon today at the College Boulevard Activity Center.

Olathe East meets Park Hill South for the championship. Both games, which were postponed from Sept. 1, are at noon.

Hawks gymnasts snag third at SM North Invite

Olathe East’s gymnastics team finished third last Saturday at the Shawnee Mission North Invitational.

The Hawks totaled 95.9 points, checking in behind only Lawrence Free State (103.35) and SM West (98.725).

Leading the way for Olathe East, Darby Getsema checked in fifth in the all-around.

She was the runner-up behind all-around champion Jackie Zaitz of the first-place Firebirds on the uneven bars with a 9.225 score. She also tied for seventh in the vault (8.9) and finished eighth on the floor (8.325).

Getsema wound up one spot ahead of Olathe Northwest’s Jessie Payne in the all-around (32.525).

Payne, who led the Ravens to 10th place as a team (87.825), tied for fourth on the floor exercise (8.45) and was fifth on the uneven bars (8.675).

Olathe South finished sixth as a team with 94.4 points, but had several outstanding individual performances.

Two Falcons, Adrienne Eisenhart and Senna Hargett, tied for second in the vault (9.1).

Hargett also claimed sixth on the floor exercise, while South’s Abby Skiles was fourth on the balance beam (8.1).

Finally, an incomplete Olathe North squad was 12th (29.05).

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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