“The key word for me was to be consistent all day with how they approached the game and how they played the game,” Willard head coach Jamalee Hancock said. “I said at the beginning of the day that for us to have confidence, we have to play consistent,”
That mission of consistency was accomplished as Willard won the tournament title for the first time in six years. The Lady Tigers finished 5-0 on the day without dropping a set.
Willard drew Green Ridge for the championship game. Green Ridge had been the team to push Willard hardest all day as they forced the Lady Tigers past 25 points in pool play.
Hancock was confident going into the final match.
“Coming into this championship game, I had a lot of confidence no matter who we played. I told (my team) that I am not worried about what (our opponents) are doing. If we keep doing on our side what we have done all day then we will win,” Hancock said.
Green Ridge came out ready to play as the Lady Tigers got up 9-5 on Willard in the first set. Hancock called a time out regroup her team.
“Whether we were up or behind they did not get rattled,” Hancock said. “Each and every one of them played to their potential. When we do that we have a really good team.”
Willard did fire on all cylinders as the Lady Tigers turned that 9-5 deficit into a 12-9 advantage and cruised to a 25-21, 25-16 two-set win for the title.
The Lady Tigers were a confident team coming in, but doubt had started to creep into their mind with lackluster play to start the season.
“I knew we could win it if we played well, but we hadn’t played well the last four matches,” Hancock said. “When you don’t play to your ability four games in a row, it starts gnawing on your mind and your confidence level.”
In addition to the wins over Green Ridge, Willard defeated Winona in the semifinals and Buffalo and Springfield Catholic in pool play. The win over Buffalo avenged Willard’s lone loss on the season as the Lady Tigers stand at 9-1.
Willard will travel to Rogersville on Sept. 10 for its next game.
Glendale wins pool, slips to fourth - CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE THIRD PLACE GAME
The Glendale Lady Falcons are a young team and some of that youth showed on Saturday as Glendale rolled through Pool Play undefeated, but dropped its final two matches to slip to fourth in the tournament.
Both losses were physically and mentally draining three-set affairs.
“I thought it (fatigue) played a huge role. I thought we got tired,” Glendale head coach Stephanie Bates said. “When you only play seven kids all the way around, if you are not in good shape then in these all day tournaments it can haunt you at the end.”
Glendale’s loss in the third-place match was to Winona, a team that the Lady Falcons beat in two sets during pool play. In the second go around, Winona sophomore Rachel Holthaus had her way on the court.
“Their No. 1 player (Holthaus), she did whatever she wanted. We couldn’t block her and we couldn’t dig her,” Bates said. “They scored a lot of points when she was on the front row and we couldn’t get our serve-receive going so we couldn’t score points back at them.”
Glendale would lose the match by a final of 25-18, 18-25 and 23-25.
Glendale’s other wins in Pool Play came over Stockton and Neosho in straight sets.
The Lady Falcons will next host Willard on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. before competing in the Springfield Classic Volleyball Tournament next weekend.
Buffalo loses first games of the year, finishes fifth - CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE FIFTH PLACE GAME
Buffalo was on a roll coming into Saturday’s tournament with a perfect 6-0 record and wins over larger schools like Willard and Branson, but things hit a bit of a bump as the Lady Bison dropped two games in pool play to be relegated to the consolation bracket.
The losses came to eventual tournament champion Willard and runner-up Green Ridge in pool play.
“We were in a tough pool, but had we been mentally tough and played to our potential those two games it would have been a totally different day,” Buffalo head coach Carmen Smith said.
With the winner’s bracket out of the question, Buffalo had to shake off the disappointment and make a run on the backside of the bracket.
“We wanted to go home with a win,” Smith said. “I told them that we have been on a rollercoaster all day. We have been up a little and we have been down a little and we wanted to finish on top.”
Buffalo dispatched Stockton easily in the Consolation Semifinals 25-14 and 25-8 to set up a second meeting with Springfield Catholic. The Lady Bison won in straight sets over the Irish in pool play, but dropped the second set in the fifth-place match.
The Lady Bison were unfazed and rolled to a win in the third set to capture fifth. Buffalo’s final tally for the win was 25-19, 23-25 and 25-12.
Now Buffalo will regroup and move on to games next week.
“We are keeping our heads up. We ended with a win and won the last couple games, so we are just going into next week confident,” Smith said.