Leopold avoids tripping vs. Advance in district volleyball semifinals

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Leopold's Mackenzie Beel (25) and Abby Landewee block a shot by Advance's Liza Gray during Game 2 of their Class 1 District 3 match Monday in Advance, Mo. (Fred Lynch)

ADVANCE, Mo. -- The Leopold volleyball team played shockingly well in its opening-game win at the Class 1 District 3 tournament Monday night. Literally.

"I thought Leopold played really well the first set," Advance coach Dana Below said. "I think we were shocked."

Then as the Wildcats have done time and again, they played just well enough to win Game 2 to finish off a 25-12, 25-22 victory and advance to the championship match.

Leopold committed just six errors -- meaning a point ended because of a Wildcats mistake, missed hit or missed serve -- in Game 1. A remarkably low number by any standards.

"We start off pretty good every game," Leopold coach Sandy Davis said. "But something about the second set we just kind of -- I don't know -- we've been trying to figure it out all year long, but they played really well. They came out aggressive, served aggressive. We played really, really well that first set."

Leopold's Mallory James attempts a shot against Advance defenders Haley Gifford, left, and Nicole Cantrell during the second game of their Class 1 District 3 match Monday, Oct. 5, 2010 at Advance. (Fred Lynch)

Leopold jumped out to an 8-2 lead in Game 1 thanks to junior Emily Elfrink, who served eight consecutive times after stepping behind the line with the score tied 2-2.

"I just tried to find the open spots on the floor and hit them," said Elfrink, who recorded an ace during the run.

"I was very proud of Emily," Davis said. "She's been really working on placing the ball and still yet serving aggressively. She served very well, and when she serves well, her passing is good. Everything just kind of clicks."

It was Advance that jumped out to an early lead in Game 2, taking an 8-1 lead and forcing Leopold to call a timeout.

"I don't know," said Leopold senior Abby Landewee when asked what led to the negative turnaround. "We talked about that in the locker room. We've just been doing that, and we've really got to get over it."

Leopold's Sydney Eeftink passes the ball against Advance during the first game of their Class 1 District 3 match Monday, Oct. 5, 2010 at Advance. (Fred Lynch)

Advance stayed in the lead as late as 18-17 in Game 2, and the game was tied 22-22 before Leopold won three points in a row to end the match.

"The second set we calmed down and I think Leopold finally made mistakes that they didn't make the first set and we saw we could do it," Below said.

Leopold, the district's No. 1 seed, received a bye in the quarterfinal round and will play Zalma for the fourth time this season in today's championship match.

Leopold defeated Zalma 25-8 in Game 1 before eventually losing the match in the last meeting between the two teams.

If the Wildcats want to win an ninth consecutive district title tonight, they'll need to avoid a Game 2 setback.

Advance's Montanna Ford passes the ball against Leopold during Monday's match.

"We got to stay up," Davis said before it was decided that Zalma would be her team's championship opponent. "We've got to think positive. We just can't wait for them to make the mistake. We've got to come out here and just play dominant. We've got to play our game. We can't play the other team's.

"The physical ability, they've got it. We've just got to keep with the mental."

Landewee led all attackers with nine kills to go along with five digs and four blocks in the match. Mallory James had six kills and an ace for Leopold, while Sydney Eeftink had 19 assists.

Liza Gray had six kills and 11 digs, while Aimie Simmers had seven kills for the Hornets. Andrea Parris had nine digs and Montanna Ford added eight. Setter Haley Kennison had 12 assists.

Advance defeated No. 5 seed Oran 25-19, 25-10 in the quarterfinal round earlier Monday.

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