Cubs take more than share of setbacks

Sunday, November 5, 2006
Bell City senior Emilie Stephens spiked the ball during Saturday's Class 1 third-place match.

Bell City lost one of its top players to injury and finished 0-3-1 in the Class 1 final four.

WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- Bell City entered the Class 1 state volleyball tournament having lost only one match and a total of six sets all season.

The Cubs left the University of Central Missouri's Multipurpose Building with a 1-7 mark in state tournament sets and three losses and a tie added to their record. On Saturday morning, Bell City fell 25-23, 25-15 to Osceola in the consolation match and took home a fourth-place trophy.

"It could be a variety of things," said Bell City coach Erin Hoffman when asked what happened to her team in the tournament. "I can't really put a finger on it. I don't know. The teams weren't any better than teams that we played all year."

One thing Hoffman can point to is the injury to junior middle blocker Rachel Spears, who dislocated her right ankle in the second game of Friday's first round-robin match against Winona. Spears, who leads the team in kills and blocks, suffered the injury when she landed on the foot of a Winona player under the net.

"It was more of a shock," said Bell City senior outside hitter Megan Slagley. "We didn't expect anything like that to happen, especially to one of the biggest players of our team. We're so used to playing with each other. We have a chemistry going, and when we lost her, it was just like a big shock."

Hoffman added: "The worst part of it is she's our vocal leader on the floor, gets everybody fired up. I think that's probably what hurt us the most is we didn't have that leadership."

Spears would have been a big help trying to match up with Osceola 6-foot middle hitter Ashley Jurgensmeyer, who ended the match with 18 of the Indians' 25 kills.

"She attacked well," Hoffman said. "We played pretty good defense against her. We just couldn't get that attack back."

Bell City, which ended its season at 34-4-1, took a 13-7 lead early in Game 1. But Osceola (26-6-5) inched its way back and took the lead for good at 22-21 on a kill by Jurgensmeyer, who ended the game with a kill that hit the net and fell safely on Bell City's side.

Bell City's Codie Lancaster, left, and Emilie Stephens attempted to dig the ball on the last point in the Cub's loss to Osceola on Saturday in the Class 1 third-place game.

Osceola, which split with Bell City on Friday, scored five straight points for a 14-9 lead. The closest the Cubs got was 15-13, as the Indians ended the match on a 6-0 run.

Slagley and Jenny Lathum had five kills and 15 digs each to lead Bell City. Sophomore setter Codie Lancaster had 13 assists.

Bell City was making its third state tournament appearance in four years. The Cubs won it all in 2003 -- just as they did in 1996 -- and finished third last year.

Despite the fourth-place finish, the Cubs are happy with their season.

"I'm not disappointed at all with the season because we did play really well," Slagley said. "We were [34-1] when we came up here. It doesn't get much better than that."

With four seniors graduating, including key performers Slagley and Emilie Stephens, Bell City hopes to make another trip to state, especially with a healthy Spears on board.

"It's a good group of girls," Hoffman said. "They're real dedicated and they worked really hard. We've got a real young setter [in Lancaster], and a good setter helps make a good program."

In the Class 1 championship match, Winona beat Santa Fe in three games for the title.

Bell City's Rachel Spears watched the action Friday after being injured during pool play at the Class 1 state tournament.
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: