BALDWIN CITY — There is a saying among coaches that the most difficult improvement to make is the final inch, the point from where a team is competing to one that it’s walking onto the court expecting to win.
The Paola volleyball team may not be to that final inch just yet, but the Lady Panthers are getting awfully close.
Paola had a tough day in the Baldwin Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 14, going 0-5 on the day. The record hardly shows just how hard the Lady Panthers fought or where they have come.
The Lady Panthers lost in straight sets to Wellsville in the seventh-place match by scores of 23-25 and 23-25.
The pair of two-point losses was the kind of day the Paola girls had. The Lady Panthers were right there in four of the five matches, but could not get a key point to finish a set off when they needed to.
Paola lost to Perry Lecompton in three sets in the consolation semifinals by scores of 25-22, 21-25 and 21-25. All three sets were decided by four points or less.
The Lady Panthers were 0-3 in pool play in the morning.
Paola opened with a three-set match against Wellsville. The Lady Panthers won the first set 25-23. Paola lost the second set 22-25. The third set was tied at 25-25 before Wellsville won two consecutive points to take the set and the match.
The Lady Panthers fell to Baldwin on its home court in three sets with scores of 20-25, 25-19 and 19-25.
Paola ended pool play with a loss to Gardner-Edgerton by scores of 13-25 and 6-25.
Mackenzie Kuehl opened the consolation semifinals match against Perry Lecompton with a kill. Rylan Armbruster had a kill at 3-2. Dakiah Yates finished off a volley with a kill at 5-3.
Morgan Clark blasted a kill off blockers at 7-6.
Yates had a block and a kill to run the lead to 12-8. Armbruster broke a tie with a kill at 16-15. Clark had a kill at 20-17.
Paola pushed its lead to 23-17 and went on to win the first set 25-22.
Abby Richmond had a kill to tie at 2-2. Kuehl served an ace at 4-2. Armbruster broke a tie with a kill at 5-4.
Clark had a kill off blockers at 7-11. Yates had a kill at 11-13. Sydney Gant had a back row kill at 12-14.
McKenzie Gagnebin had a kill at at 19-21. Clark had a block at 20-22. The Lady Panthers lost the match 21-25.
Paola fell behind 4-7 in the third set. Clark tied the set with a kill at 8-8.
Richmond had a kill at 14-17 and a block at 15-18. Mikayla White served an ace at 16-18. Richmond had a kill. Yates had a block at 18-19.
The Lady Panthers fell behind to Wellsville 5-10 in the first set of the seventh-place match.
Gagnebin served back-to-back aces to close the gap to 8-10.
Gagnebin had a kill off blockers at 15-18. She added kills at 16-19 and 18-19.
Kuehl had a kill at 20-22. Yates had a kill at 21-23. Paola made it a one-point set at 23-24 and lost it 23-25.
Richmond tied the second set at 3-3 with a kill. Gagnebin had a block at 6-7. Kuehl had a block at 8-10. Armbruster had a kill at 12-13.
Yates had blocks at 16-15, 19-16 and 20-17. Armbruster had a kill at 22-18. The set was tied at 22-22 and 23-23 before Paola fell 23-25.