The Maize South volleyball team went undefeated at Tuesday night’s Goddard triangular against Arkansas City and Goddard.
Goddard hosted the triangular, which was its last home match-up of the season on a night that was bothSenior Night and Pink Night, to support breast cancer research and awareness.
“We were executing and serving very well against Ark City,” Goddard coach Tish Dimick said. “It was a good game to have for senior night and our last home game. There were a lot of distractions before the match, so to come out and play well, that was really good for us.”
Goddard’s Kelsey Durban and Megan Graf excelled against Ark City, hitting the ball into unguarded Ark City court space. The Bulldogs tried to rally, but committed to many errors early on. By the time Ark City found its rhythm late in the second set, Goddard’s lead was untouchable.
Between the first and second match, Goddard players donned pink “Bump, Set, Cure” shirts and cheered on as the program recognized Goddard’s only senior, Gabriella Casenove, who received a bouquet of pink roses from her teammates.
Maize South opened up its first game of the triangular with a 25-3 set against Ark City. The Mavericks’ front-row lineup of Jody Larson, Cailea Gibbs and Emily Keller proved hard to bypass at the net. Again, the Bulldogs rallied in the second set, but Maize South’s tough serves and height gave the Mavericks the momentum and advantage. Maize South won the second set 25-13.
The most anticipated match-up of the night eventually came: Maize South versus Goddard. Both teams had proven themselves against Ark City, but now the spectators were eager to see who would be the better of the two. The last time the two teams played each other, the match went into three sets.
“It’s more fun as an athlete to be pushed,” Maize South coach Teri Larson said of Tuesday’s match against Goddard. “And the girls wanted that and were looking forward to that.”
Maize South took a quick lead in both sets, but Goddard fought back both times. The Mavericks’ height advantage gave them multiple points off blocks or opportunities to re-set the play on their half of the court before going on the offensive against Goddard. The Lions tried to gain the lead back in each set, but Maize South’s momentum and composure was too much. The Mavericks won both sets 25-17.
“We have a triangular at home Thursday and a big tournament Saturday, so we need to get prepared for that,” Larson said. “We needed this match for that.”
Dimick said she was happy that Goddard was able to beat Ark City, but wished the Lions could have forced a third set against the Mavericks.
“Maize South is a very respectable and talented team,” Dimick said. “We played well, but we could’ve played better. You’ve got to play your game to be able to beat teams like that.”
Goddard opted to host its ‘Pink Night’ in September, because it didn’t have any home matches in October, which is when ‘pink games’ are normally held.
After the matches were over, the Lions’ commemorated Maize South’s assistant coach Shelley Poynter, who died from cancer last year.
Dimick explained that some of her players knew McKenna Poynter, Shelley’s daughter, from softball and wanted to do something special for her.
In addition, the Mavericks and the Lions also presented Dimick with a pink flower, to honor her as a breast cancer survivor, and the two coaches—who have known each other for years—posed for a picture together.
After the game, the two teams lined up for a picture together: the Mavericks and the Lions interwoven into one group, all with smiling faces. And, for a moment, it seemed there were no longer winners or losers Tuesday night—only volleyball players.
“That was really nice of her team to include McKenna in that,” Larson said with teary eyes, but a grateful smile. “She’s had a tough week. But we’re hosting our ‘Pink Game’ on Thursday, so we’re all looking forward to that.”
Goddard and Arkansas City will play its next triangular at Andover Central, and Maize South hosts Wichita North and Word of Life Traditional on Thursday night before taking part in the Wichita Heights tournament on Saturday.