Everything seemed like it was falling into place for Andover in its sub-state volleyball championship match against higher-seeded Emporia.
The Trojans were controlling the net with their block and their offense was operating at the quick tempo coach Andrea Daugherty prefers in a first set Andover won 25-18.
How did Andover go from that to losing the next two sets, and the match, 25-16 and 25-11?
“I think we just got stuck in a serve-receive rotation and we couldn’t put it down offensively,” Daugherty said. “Emporia made a few changes to their defense and we didn’t make the changes we needed to for us to put the ball down.”
Emporia (28-9) advances to the Class 5A tournament in Topeka next week.
Andover’s offense hummed along in the first set with Isabelle Reynolds, Olivia Hessman, Mallory Loflin, Kendyl Dotson, and Lida DiLollo finishing in a balanced attack. But then Emporia made an adjustment to how it set up its block, taking away the lines and forcing Andover hitters to strike back toward the middle, and the Trojans never had control after that.
Through the first 23 points, Emporia led 12-11, but Emporia scored 13 of the next 18 points to win the set 25-16, and 38 of the next 54 points to win the match.
Although it was a disappointing end to the season for Andover, Daugherty was optimistic to bring back its top five hitters, libero Julia Graves, and both setters, Baylee Bloom and Sierra Norlin from a team that won 26 games and the AV-CTL II championship.
“The whole point of this year was growth and to build up our program and build up our girls mentally and physically,” Daugherty said. “Even though we didn’t make it to state this time, I think this will really help them get there next season.”