PAOLA — Opening night was an exciting one for the Paola Lady Panthers and the Lady Cats of Louisburg with the third set knotted up four times before the Frontier League matchup was decided.
Louisburg, ranked fourth in Class 4A, won the first two sets in dominating fashion at Paola High School on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
The Lady Cats jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the first set and went on to win it 25-14.
Louisburg led 4-0 to start the second set. Paola was getting warmed up, fighting back to close the deficit to 7-6 and 9-7, before falling 25-13.
Down two sets to none in the best-of-five series, the Paola girls dug deep in the third set.
Louisburg went out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. Paola closed the gap to 10-7 and 11-8 before pulling even at 12-12.
The Lady Cats kept the pressure on, pulling out to a 15-13 advantage. Louisburg extended its lead to 20-15.
Paola rallied to tie the score at 21-21, 22-22 and 23-23. Louisburg stepped up and closed out the set, winning the final two points to take the game and the match 25-23.
“For the first time out, they did well,” Louisburg coach Jessica Compliment said. “They had high energy for the first two sets. The resolve they showed in the third set to finish it was big.”
Louisburg seniors Haley Cain, Erin Lemke, Elizabeth Jacobs and junior Carleigh Pritchard had some huge kills for the Lady Cats on the front row. Sophomore setters Rinny McMullen and Davis Guetterman ran the offense. Senior libero Reilly Ratliff-Becher and Riley Kallevig anchored the defense.
“It is such a well-balanced team,” Compliment said. “It is always nice to play your rivals.”
The match was the head coaching debut for Paola’s Kirby Kenny.
The Lady Panthers showed some heart and character in the third set that will serve them well this season, Kenny said.
“We definitely have the pieces,” she said. “We need to put those pieces together.
“I can’t wait to see what we do in the future,” Kenny said. “The way we committed to that third set, if they play like that, they are unstoppable.”
Chase Kallevig served an ace at 2-0 in the opening set. McMullen had a great dig and Riley Kallevig finished off the volley with a kill at 3-0. Chase Kallevig fired in another ace at 4-0.
Paola junior Abby Richmond got Paola on the scoreboard with a kill at 6-1. Paola called a timeout at 8-1.
Jacobs had a kill to make it 9-1 for the Lady Cats.
Freshman Sydney Gant made a great dig for the Lady Panthers on a volley. Louisburg went on to take the points.
The Lady Cats made it 10-1 on a cross court kill from right to left by Pritchard. Paola made it 10-2 on a kill by senior Mckenzie Gagnebin.
McMullen set the ball over the net to catch Paola off guard to make it an 11-point game, 19-8. Lemke ended the match with a kill at 25-14.
McMullen started the second set with an ace. Jacobs had a backhand kill at the net to make it 2-0. Cain had a big kill at 3-0 and a block at the net to push the lead to 4-0.
Paola junior hitter Morgan Clark had a kill to pull the Lady Panthers within two points, 7-5.
Jacobs had a kill at 11-7 and Paola called a timeout at 13-7. Richmond had a kill for Paola at 15-9.
Ratliff-Becher and McMullen both had huge digs, and Jacobs ended the long volley with a kill at 17-9.
Paola sophomore Mikayla White served an ace at 18-11. McMullen had a tip at the net for Louisburg at 20-11. Richmond had a block at the net for Paola at 20-13.
Louisburg won a couple of long volleys against Paola at 22-13 and 23-13. The Lady Cats went on to take the second set 25-13.
The Lady Cats took a 5-1 lead in the third set. Pritchard had a kill at 7-3. Lemke had a stuff block at 9-4.
Richmond had a block as Paola closed the deficit to three points, 11-8. The Lady Panthers tied the set at 12-12.
Jacobs had a kill to give Louisburg a two-point advantage at 14-12.
Paola sophomore Dakiah Yates had a kill as Paola pulled within four points, 20-16. Pritchard had a kill for the Lady Cats at 21-17.
The Lady Panthers tied the third set at 21-21. It would be tied again at 22-22 and 23-23.
Cain took over to end the match. She had a block at 24-23 and a kill to seal the set and match at 25-23.
Lemke and Jacobs led the Lady Cats with six kills each. Riley Kallevig and Pritchard each had five kills. Chase Kallevig served four aces. Cain had three aces.
Pritchard and Cain each had three blocks. Tatliff-Becher had nine digs. Riley Kallevig, Chase Kallevig and McMullen each had eight digs. McMullen had 11 assists at setter.