Tough Bobcats outlast proud Pioneers

It’s still only 2017, but like Prince once said: ‘It’s time to party like it’s 2018!’

OK well, maybe the rock legend went with another time period, but the Basehor-Linwood and Leavenworth High volleyball teams sure did fiesta Thursday night in a non-league contest, if only for the moment.

The two, future United Kansas Conference rivals waged battled in Basehor and after a quick first set that saw the host Bobcats dominate, the two teams gave the crowd a fine preview of what can be expected in 2018-19 when they become league rivals.

Basehor-Linwood (13-5) held on for a 3-1 (25-7, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19) win over a Leavenworth team that showed its character by bouncing back strong after a dismal first set.

“We had a ton of energy and I said in (set) four, I wanted the (set) one team back,” BLHS head coach Amy Irvin said. “We didn’t have the fire after 25-7. We thought we could probably just roll with it (after the first set), but we knew that it wasn’t going to be a cake walk. Starting off that way was nice, but we knew we had to pick it back up if we wanted to win.

“We played them this summer, but we’ve never played them in season…it’s fun to play other area schools.”

LVHS was led by Randi Raymos (14 kills), Hannah Wagner (eight kills) and Maya Raney-Johnson (three blocks) and Katelyn Blackburn (three blocks).

Basehor was paced by freshman Jenna Zydio (seven kills), Riley Tinder (six kills) and Katie Yankovich (six digs).

Zydio came up big again along with a number of her teammates, using her energy and skill at the net to help the Bobcats set the tone early on.

“I think we got a little tired after we started off with a lot of energy and having a lot of fun,” Zydio said. “(Leavenworth) also started playing better and picked up their game.

“I just try to play my game and be nice to everybody and cheer my team. I love the game and I love my teammates and that’s what it’s about. I was the only freshman added to the team this year, so it was kind of hard at first, but I think I fit in, so that’s good.”

BLHS won the first set by keeping the Pioneers off balance with an aggressive attack and an abundance of positive energy that Leavenworth had no answer for.

“We hadn’t started playing our game yet,” Blackburn said. “(After the first set) We all wanted it even more, we played hard and we talked more. We found all the energy we could find in ourselves and pushed as hard as we could. We felt we needed to win, we just had to get that started at the beginning of the game.”

The Pioneers’ spirit came to life in the second set as the scrambled back from an early deficit and began to win most of the rallies to tie it at 16-all.

However, this edition of the Bobcat team is a steely one and it rolled off four straight points to take back control, ultimately holding off the Pioneers for a 2-0 lead.

Leavenworth would not relent and they continued to battle before finally clawing out the third set win and momentum was clearly on its side.

Yet, again, the Bobcats would show that toughness that has been a part of their make up all year and after the two were tied at 18, they rolled off five consecutive points to hold off the Pioneers in four.

“The first set, we just needed to warm up to get going, there was no energy, we just played defense and that was it, we didn’t attack the ball at all,” LVHS assistant coach Lexie Everman said after stepping in for head coach Cassandra Rockers who missed the contest. “We came back fighting and had a lot more energy and communicated. We started to attack the ball and look for the holes.”