After jumping out on Glendale 17-12, his Nixa squad watched as the Lady Falcons ripped off 38 of the next 50 points to sweep the Lady Eagles at home.
On Saturday, his squad responded in dominant fashion, topping Reeds Spring in two sets to claim the Branson Invitational championship Saturday evening.
“It means a lot, especially after Thursday’s game against Glendale,” said Walker. “We played like six individuals in that game, and our postgame talk centered on teamwork. Today they came in with smiles on their faces and they did that every game. It was fantastic.”
The Lady Eagles topped Reeds Spring 25-16, 25-14 in the tournament championship, After topping COC foe Carthage in a three-set thriller in the semifinals. It would be the only set the Lady Eagles would surrender all tournament long.
That semifinal match saw Aubrey Cheffey take over after the Eagles dropped the first set. Cheffey, just a sophomore, was named the tournament’s MVP, turning heads throughout the day with booming spikes.
“Basically it comes down to this, everyone in the gym knows who should get the ball except our setters, so they needed to jump on the bandwagon and get her the ball,” said Walker. “After we dropped that set to Carthage she really took over. We will give her the ball until her legs fall off.”
The Lady Eagles did just that against the vertically challenged Lady Wolves.
“We were a little undermanned,” said Lipasek. “We aren’t blessed with size, so we just have to play with big hearts. Nixa has a lot of size and we just didn’t have answer for it. It was a tough matchup, I wanted to see them play hard and work on some of the unforced errors and they did that.”
The first set saw Reeds Spring play with Nixa for the better part of the set, mainly due to their ability to dig up balls and play the lines.
For a small team, those two aspects are key for the Lady Wolves.
“We have to work on things like that,” said Lipasek. “We can work on blocking all we want, but when you have a 5-foot-3 girl trying to block a 6-foot-2 girl you’re not going to win that battle. So, we do a lot of defensive drills and ball control. We’ve been fortunate to have such good coaches in our feeder programs and we’ve accepted that this is just the way we have to play.”
Reeds also received a big-time performance from senior standout Danielle Curnes, who had several spikes of her own that echoed in the gym.
“She plays all the way around and does a lot for us,” said Lipasek. “We set her and Amy up a ton because we have to. The other team knows where it’s going so it puts even more pressure on them. Danielle has worked so hard in the weight room and trains so hard and it shows. When she was a freshman she was scrawny, and right now she is reaping the benefits of all that hard work.”
Curnes was named to the All-Tournament Team, along with MVP Cheffey.
Coach Walker is hoping Saturday’s performance will snowball into more wins for the Lady Eagles.
“We have a pair of games next so hopefully we can carry this momentum forward,” said Walker. “I hope they remember this feeling and know how they got here. That is going to be the big key for us the rest of this season.”
El Dorado Springs tops Pattonville
In Silver Bracket play, the Lady Bulldogs, one of the smallest schools in Saturday’s event, topped the Pattonville Pirates, the largest school in the field, to take the Silver Bracket championship.
The Lady Bulldogs led 24-19 in the second set, when Pattonville suddenly came to life, winning four straight points to pull within one, 24-23.
El Dorado Spring’s coach Tonya Hooper called a timeout to settle down her squad.
“I told them to do what we do,” said Hooper. “Fundamentals, good passing, getting the ball to Lex on the outside and letting her put it away.”
Senior Alexa Schaaf did just that.
Her kill ended the rally and that match, giving the Lady Bulldogs a huge win for a team that is looking to replace five seniors from last year’s 30-win team.
“We lost a lot from last year’s squad, so we have some big shoes to fill,” said Hooper. “But these kids are determined, and they put in the time in the offseason. We have a great sophomore class that is stepping up and playing well for us, so to come here and compete with a few bigger schools the way we did today we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Leading the way Saturday was Schaaf, who was also named to the All-Tournament Team.
“Lex is a four-year varsity player and an all-stater,” said Hooper. “She has really stepped into a leadership role for us. She can play anywhere and brings great energy, and she will continue to do that for us all season.”
Aubrey Cheffey, Nixa – MVP
Lauren Boone, Branson
Danielle Curnes, Reeds Spring
Mikala Hicks, Fair Grove
Alexa Schaaf, El Dorado Springs
Vanessa Pawlak, Carthage
Haley Stallings, Fair Grove
Audrey Engelman, Nixa
Emilia Tuxen, Hollister
Laynie Dake, Mount Vernon
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