Lee’s Summit West volleyball coach Lori Hanaway has a certain expectation level when it comes to her teams effort and intensity level each game.
And when that isn’t met – like it wasn’t Oct. 9, despite a 25-17, 25-21 win over Ray-Pec – Hanaway doesn’t always want to wait until the following day to get back to work.
“We didn’t play crisp. We had a lot of unforced errors. Those are the types of things that put a coach in a bad mood,” said Hanaway, as her team was going through an impromptu postgame practice.
“It’s always good to get a win. But I didn’t think we played well. We were flat and didn’t play with much intensity.”
The night began on an uplifting note as both team’s honored Ruskin head coach Shannon Higgins – a fellow conference member with the Titans – who is battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Once play started, the Panthers were giving the ninth-ranked Titans all they could handle in the early going thanks to a superb defense, as they jumped out to a 9-6 lead.
“We’ve been a work in progress on defense. We played some tough defense (tonight),” Panthers head coach Katie Dowden said.
But from that point on, the Titans began to take over. They would score 19 of the final 27 points to claim the first game.
A key stretch came with West leading 13-10 and they really pulled away with an 8-1 stretch that included five aces – three from Kailin Cordes and two from Lydia Hunter.
“We’ve been concentrating on serving aggressively,” Hanaway said. “We still need to be a little more consistent. We’re the type of team that needs to be good at that.”
Added Dowden, “They had a good run there with their serves. We seem to start strong and then hit a lull mid-set. We were not expecting their tough serving.”
Game two was nip-and-tuck most of the way. With the game tied at 12-all, West would go on a 9-4 run that gave them just enough room to eventually put the game away, despite the Panthers crawling back to make it 21-19.
Titans outside hitter Carlisa May was the difference in the second game with nine kills, including the final one to seal the win.
“They got Carlisa the ball a lot. She’s a strong hitter,” Dowden said.
The loss dropped Ray-Pec below .500 to 10-11 on the season, but Dowden likes where her team is at thanks to the fact that they seem to be getting healthy.
“Aspen (Booker) has been under the weather, but she’s almost 100 percent,” Dowden said. “Krosbie (Smith) had some good swings on the ball, and she just had surgery about four weeks ago for a double hernia. We have more confidence in our offense and we’ve improved. We have to buckle down on our serve-receive and convert.
“Now that everyone is healthy we have some (practice) time to get some work in.”
Meanwhile, the Titans flashed their potential at times, especially during stretches in the first game.
Coaching a young squad – the Titans only have two seniors – what Hanaway hopes they can do now is show those flashes on a more consistent basis if they want to go from being a good team to a great team.
“I tell them that all the time. That’s why we’re working on it right now,” Hanaway said of the spur-of-the-moment practice. “We have some youth. We have some inexperience but with each game we have to be getting better. It’s October now, that can’t be a crutch.”