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Scott City volleyball team reaches playoffs unbeaten
Scott City senior Katie Hogan experienced mixed feeling when deciding which team she wanted to face in the Class 2 District 2 volleyball title match Tuesday.
The Rams made quick work of Puxico in the semifinals to reach the championship match. Then No. 2 seed Clearwater and No. 3 seed St. Vincent battled for the right to face the Rams for the title.
"This is going to sound really bad, but part of me wanted them to get beat by Clearwater just for the embarrassment," Hogan said about St. Vincent. "But then most of me wanted us to play them."
St. Vincent's victory over Clearwater set a rematch of last year's district title match. The Indians upset Scott City last season to seize the district crown, and the Rams wanted a chance to erase the memory of that loss.
"Last year was awful," Scott City senior Mikah Simpson said. "Awful ending. It's been all we could think about for the last year. So coming in and beating them, we knew we had to. We wouldn't have another chance. It meant the world to us to beat St. Vincent."
The host Rams (30-0-1) exacted revenge by downing St. Vincent 25-9, 25-18 to claim the district title.
"It made it like 10 times sweeter showing them that last year was a flaw," Hogan said. "We weren't all there mentally. And this year, we're mentally strong and physically strong and ready to go."
The memory of last year's district championship match served as motivation for the Indians, too. They wanted to prove last year's outcome wasn't a fluke.
"This whole season, we've been kind of waiting to come to this point to see if we could do it again," St. Vincent junior Monika Smith said. "Last year was an amazing game. I thought we played pretty good [Tuesday], but it just didn't work out this time. But next year we'll come back stronger and hopefully it will be switching back years."
Scott City set the tone early in Game 1. Senior Whitney Froman served nine consecutive points to help the Rams build a 17-5 lead.
"I think it kind of got our hopes down a little bit because we were hoping to be strong in the first game at least," Smith said about the big deficit. "Even though they got it, toward the end we started getting back in our groove."
Froman and Simpson provided much of the firepower for the Rams' offense in the first game and a chunk of the second. Scott City coach Erin Hoffman said that's by design when teams focus their defense on Hogan.
"When teams scout us, they scout Katie first," Hoffman said. "So tonight they followed Katie everywhere at the beginning of the game. They pulled the block and we were able to set it to our outside, and [Froman] just had a heyday. Then they had to move their block over to play honest, so then Katie started. ... She was making it easy for the outsides to get kills. It was just at the end they realized we need to block this girl too, so then Katie was wide open."
Froman said she knows she must help take some pressure off Hogan by capitalizing when the blockers follow Hogan.
"Most people think we're just going to shoot the ball to Katie every time," Froman said. "But like Mikah will get up there and swing when she needs to and whenever we shoot it to the outside, the blockers get confused and hardly anybody comes to the outside to block."
Hoffman praised Froman's work in practice as the reason for her offensive prowess.
"She's been getting better all season," Hoffman said. "When I walked in my first week of practice, all she could do was hit line. Line, line, line, line, line. She's been working so hard and now she can hit it all. ... She's definitely come around as a strong offensive player."
St. Vincent did a better job of sticking with the Rams in the second game. The Indians managed to avoid any long runs by the Rams, but Scott City maintained a comfortable cushion. Smith and Hogan traded kills to give the Rams a 24-17 lead before St. Vincent scored its final point. The Rams ended the match on a Simpson kill.
"It's awesome," Simpson said about the title. "It feels great. It gives me goose bumps talking about it."
Simpson made her presence felt in the front and back row against St. Vincent, which didn't surprise Hoffman. The coach said that Hogan's talents sometimes overshadow the other Rams starters.
"Mikah is making people notice her too," Hoffman said. "She's just all-around solid -- her defense, her movement, her communication, her serving. Just everything is nice and solid."
The Rams advanced to Saturday's Class 2 sectional. The Rams will host St. Pius in the 3 p.m. sectional with the winner advancing to play the Bloomfield vs. Liberty Mountain View winner in the 6 p.m. state quarterfinal.
Scott City defeated Puxico 25-9, 25-8 in Tuesday's first semifinal. The Rams scored eight of the first nine points in Game 1 before Puxico rallied to cut Scott City's lead to 8-7.
The Rams finished on a 17-2 run to end the game.
Scott City started the second game on another run, this time 15-2, and never were threatened.
St. Vincent dropped its first game against Clearwater in the other semifinal. The Tigers ended the game on a 5-1 run to grab the 25-19 win.
"I know a lot of girls were kind of freaking out because this whole time we've been focusing on Scott City," Smith said. "We were all kind of surprised, a little taken back. But we all realized we had to focus on that game first. We got that done."
The Indians built a 24-14 lead before the Tigers reeled off five points to make things interesting, but St. Vincent pulled out the 25-19 win.
The third game was tied 23-23 when Smith gave the Indians the lead with a tip kill. They won the match on a block by Katie Mattingly.