Teams from all around the state of Missouri and northwest Arkansas traveled to Springfield to compete at Kickapoo High School. The Lady Tigers battled all the way to the championship game, but fell short as Lafayette defeated Republic 25-10, 25-18.
Republic rose to the occasion on Saturday afternoon, as they defeated Fort Smith North Side in pool play, and dominated the bracket taking it to the conference rival Nixa Lady Eagles and beating West Minister in three matches during the semi-final round. Unfortunately Lafayette had other plans, claiming victory in the opening game of pool play in addition to the Championship series against the Lady Tigers.
“The only the team we lost to all day was Lafayette, we lost to them our first game of the day and ended up losing to them the last game as well,” Coach Piper Wright said. “You know this was a very challenging tournament, I think to get second place was still a huge achievement. Lafayette was one of the best high school teams I have ever seen, to lose only to them in this tournament is awesome.”
Republic’s strategy during the Championship game was to put up a huge block as much as they could to stop the tall overpowering Lafayette squad. The Lady Tigers tried to use Lafayette’s size to their advantage, gathering as many digs as they could, while responding to blocks with effective defense.
Lafayette was difficult to stop, getting on top early allowing Republic to score only 10 points during the first match. The second match however, lit a fire under the Lady Tigers as they tied the game at 15 apiece, but Lafayette’s offensive drive was too hard to handle and they claimed the title in two matches.
Republic Senior Setter Sarah Kreul takes leadership for the Lady Tigers, developing a good eye of the court and providing a strong foundation for setting the ball in position to score.
“I was just really excited how well the team performed throughout the day. Lafayette is a good team, and I’m proud of how we competed with them because they’re fantastic,” Kreul said. “Defeating Nixa in the first round really gave us confidence to do well in this tournament early. When we lose it’s because of us, when we win it’s because of us, we just need to face things on our side of the floor. We never plan, it doesn’t matter if we’re playing Lafayette or Aurora, we just try to get the job done.”
Republic takes second place out of a total 12 teams in the tournament, winning three games and losing two to Lafayette.
“I just love the girls, they are so awesome,” Wright said. “It’s a blessing to be a part of their lives. They just bring me a lot of joy; they work and always bring me their best.”