Conference champs at last

Drexel volleyball wins first conference title in school history after 3-1 win over Archie

By Christopher Tenpenny

Trailing 23-20 in the fourth set with a 2-1 lead, the Drexel volleyball team seemed destined to go to a deciding fifth set with Archie Oct. 14 at Archie. The winner between the two rivals would be crowned Western Missouri Conference Champions, a title Drexel volleyball had never claimed before.

“Before the season started, I told the girls we don’t have a year under that conference banner in school history,” Drexel head coach David Duncan said.

“One of the things the girls set out to do when I asked them what their goals are was to put a year on the conference banner.”

The Lady Cats fought back and scored the final five points to win the set, the game and the conference title.

“As a coach, I never give up. I never had a thought, let’s get ready for a fifth set,” Duncan said. “I know what these girls are capable of. The rest is up to them to go out and perform. It starts with our four juniors and they have the mentality, as long as the scoreboard still doesn’t say 25 we have a shot.”

Drexel set the tone of the game early, winning set one 25-14. They were then able to hold onto the lead in set two and win 25-23. With the game on the line, Archie flipped a switch a came back with a strong performance in set three, 25-18.

Archie head coach Dana Martin said her team did a good job of bouncing back from the first two sets.

“I think they just decided to play,” she said. “They let those previous mistakes go by and started playing the ball in front of them instead of the ball behind them.”

Archie then commanded most of set four, leading for a majority of the set before Drexel came storming back.

“There have been many times this year where we would get down on ourselves and never recover,” Duncan said. “Here lately though, they’ve learned how to shake that off and move on to the next play. They did that tonight and showed the true competitors they are.”

It was a team effort as every player had an impact in the win. Emily Wheeler led the team in kills with 20, Josie Parks had a team leading 43 digs, Gracie Marks had 40 assists, Anna Finley had eight blocks while Paige Gordon and Oliva Shipps were second or third in kills, digs and blocks.

On the season including tournaments, Drexel now has a 5-3 advantage in sets, none bigger than this matchup. Still, the two teams may be headed for another matchup in the district tournament. Archie will be the No.2 seed while Drexel will be the No. 3 seed in the Class 1 District 11 tournament. If both teams win its first game, the two will once again face off head-to-head for a chance to play in the district championship.

Both teams still have so much work to do before getting to this point. The district tournament will start tonight in Drexel with Drexel. Archie will take on Ballard Saturday at noon while Drexel will play Hume at 2 p.m. If both teams win, the rematch will take place Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Drexel.