The Kearney and Smithville volleyball teams fell in the opening round of their respective district tournaments on Monday, Oct. 28.
No. 5 seed Staley upset No. 4 Kearney 2-1 in the Class 4 District 16 tournament inside the Kearney gymnasium.
The Bulldogs opened the match with a 25-22 win, but the Falcons (9-17) took the next two sets by the scores of 25-22 and 25-15 to advance to the semifinal round.
“We battled hard and that’s the important thing,” Kearney coach Pete Smart said. “We came out strong in the first set and played very good volleyball. The second set we started slow but battled back at the end, so I was hoping in that third set that we would keep that going.”
With the loss, Kearney’s season came to an end with a record of 18-12-2. The Bulldogs are due to graduate five seniors — Ashley Monks, Megan Smothers, Delany Stout, Maya Tyner and Quinn Weakley.
“I just feel bad for the seniors and the abrupt end,” Smart said. “That’s always hard when you get knocked out in districts. Coming back to coach and not having to do it in a long time, you just appreciate the senior leadership. They’re going to be missed, so there will be shoes to fill next year.”
The No. 7 Warriors took No. 2 Excelsior Springs to three sets, but couldn’t quite pull off an upset to extend their season in the Class 3 District 16 tournament at St. Joseph Benton High School.
Smithville fell into a one-set hole with a 25-14 loss before recovering with a 25-21 win. But Excelsior Springs bounced back with a 25-18 victory to end the Warriors’ season.
Smithville was led by Riley Foster and Katie Kasten, who both recorded nine kills on the night. Megan Harris dished out 20 assists and Corene Kelle had 23 digs.
“They started a little hesitant with nerves maybe getting to them a little bit,” Smithville coach Katie Minnix said. “But we talked about that after set one and, man, did they come out and play well. They kept fighting but just couldn’t finish it out. They played really well together and had great energy and made Excelsior earn it.”
The Warriors finished the season with a record of 8-20-2. Smithville loses five seniors to graduation.
“This group is really special because they were freshmen when I started. They’re a good group that I’ve gotten to know really well and they’ve grown and matured into people that I was happy to coach.”