PECULIAR — Just two days after suffering a heart-breaking first-round defeat in the Winnetonka Tournament, the Raymore-Peculiar Lady Panthers volleyball squad (5-4) was able to take out their aggression on their cross-town rivals.
Last Saturday at Winnetonka High School, Ray-Pec went 2-1 in pool play, defeating Pembroke Hill and Oak Park, but losing to Liberty, which was good enough to land them in the winner’s bracket in the single-elimination tournament.
Naturally, the girls headed into their first game of bracket play against the Leavenworth Lady Pioneers with confidence.
Then, after winning the first game 25-13, the Lady Panthers dropped the second game 18-25 and were forced to play a deciding third game against a big, athletic Leavenworth team.
“We were up and down a little bit,” said Ray-Pec head coach Katie Dowden.
Unfortunately, the Lady Panthers ended the last set against the Lady Pioneers on the wrong end of a 25-22 score. Never getting behind Leavenworth until the end of the set, Ray-Pec could never get a lead of more than four. At one point, the two squads exchanged single points ten times in a row.
Leavenworth tied the game at 21 before taking the lead and never looking back.
Monday night, Raymore-Peculiar got back on the winning path by beating the Belton Pirates in straight sets.
The first set was won relatively easily for the home team, as a 25-13 victory had the squads switching sides not long after the first serve.
The second set was fought much harder by Belton, who actually took a four point lead early on.
Through the first ten points of the set, the Lady Pirates led 7-3. The eleventh serve of the set would result in the longest volley of the contest.
Aspen Booker, a junior for Ray-Pec, was able to keep the Lady Panthers from getting into a deeper hole. Throughout the volley, Belton was able to get a couple of good spikes on the ball that were somehow dug out by Booker.
“She (Aspen) did a great job,” Dowden said after the game.
“Defensively she covers a lot for us. She’s tall, she’s got long arms, she reads really well.”
Raymore-Peculiar came out of the volley on top, making the score 7-4 before scoring again and forcing Belton to call a timeout.
The Lady Pirates scored first coming out of their timeout, but the Lady Panthers managed to go on a 6-0 run, taking a 12-8 lead.
Nearly as entertaining as the game was the interaction between the Ray-Pec student section and the Belton group of students that came out to the match.
One of the students from the Panther side of the gym had a dry erase board on which he would communicate with the opposition. At various parts of the game the sign would read comments such as, “Remember 62-14???” in reference to the Ray-Pec and Belton football game earlier this year, and “Tate Stevens lives in Raymore.”
The Lady Pirates gave Raymore-Peculiar a late scare, going on a run of their own, closing the gap to two–making the score 20-18.
The home team was able to get back into the swing of things, though, scoring five straight points and winning the set 25-18.
The Ray-Pec volleyball team will be playing in the Lee’s Summit North Tournament on Saturday.