(Tribune photo/Scott Nuzum)
Unfortunately, there were also times when it showed the look of an inconsistent team. And the inconsistency that's hurt the Tigers -- 3-1 in the SEK and 7-14 overall -- a lot this season was something they had to overcome to beat Independence in three games and unable to overcome in a two-game sweep at the hands of LCHS.
"We're definitely competitive," Fort Scott head coach Carol Bingesser said. "It's just that we make a lot of little mistakes. The little mistakes right now is what's killing us because if we could eliminate half of those little mistakes, we'd be right in the game, if not winning the ball game."
The Tigers beat Independence, 25-27, 25-23, 25-22. Game one of the match probably caused the Bulldogs to feel a strange case of deja vu.
Last week at about the same time, Indy held a 15-0 lead on Pittsburg in the third game of their dual at Independence. The Purple Dragons staged an amazing rally but the Bulldogs could still have clinched the game as they held a 24-20 lead.
But Pittsburg scored six straight points to take the game and the match.
Independence's lead wasn't as large Thursday. The 'Dogs were up 24-18 when it looked like the same thing was going to happen.
A bad serve resulted in a point and gave serve to the Tigers. Not even two time outs could stop the Tigers' momentum and they took a 25-24 lead when Hannah Hawkins snuffed a long rally with a kill.
Unlike last week, however, Independence got the ball back on a net serve, then scored two kills to take the first game.
The Tigers trailed 23-20 in the second game. But a pair of Independence errors helped start a Fort Scott rally. Shelby Nafzger tied the score and two more Indy miscues tied the match at 1-1.
Independence was ahead 8-3 and 13-9 in the deciding game. But Brittany Bingesser served a couple of aces as part of Fort Scott's rally that brought them within 13-12.
Ashley Middleton and Sammi Therwanger contributed kills during a 7-1 run that saw Fort Scott go up 21-18. Indy came back to tie it, 21-21, but a Kori Page Rienboldt kill returned serve to the Tigers.
Fort Scott scored four of the last five points of the match. Nafzger led the Tigers with six kills while Therwanger had five and Middleton and Annie Gladbach each had four.
Bingesser dished 13 assists while Casey Rickerson had nine. Hawkins had two blocks while Bingesser, Nafzger and Gladbach each served two aces.
Next came Labette County, which had opened the triangular with a 25-12, 25-15 sweep of Independence.
The Grizzlies ran out to an 8-1 lead in the first game as 6' 2" Kendra Frazier and 5' 10" Katelyn Penner were simply too powerful to contain while they were playing on the front row.
But when they were on the back row, the Tigers could avoid their power and were able to find some open areas.
Back-to-back Therwanger kills and a Hawkins block saw Fort Scott get within 20-18 before Penner's kill gave serve back to LCHS and it scored the final five points.
The Grizzlies jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second game as Frazier and Penner dominated early.
But the Tigers fought back and began to find some holes in the Grizzlies' coverages. They got within three points four times, the last at 14-11.
Frazier and Penner took things over again as LCHS scored seven of the final eight points of the first game.
Therwanger led the Tigers with five kills in the second game while Middleton had four. Bingesser dished five assists. Hawkins, Middleton and Gladbach recorded two blocks each.
"The main thing in both matches, our serving just killed us," coach Bingesser said. "We lose focus a lot of times. We do some really brilliant things and then we do some really dumb things. And we can't stay on an even keel and that's our main problem. But the the biggest thing we're working on is trying to stay focused. Every time that we need something to happen, we're trying to make it happen but we aren't there yet."
Labette County improved to 3-1 in the SEK and 19-4 overall. The Grizzlies aren't ranked by the Kansas Volleyball Association yet but they have been receiving votes.
Meanwhile, Independence fell to 0-4, 8-7.
"There were moments against Labette County that we looked good," Bingesser said. "And there were some moments that we looked really bad. That's our problem. We need to find an even road that we can travel because right now, we're not there.
"We struggled with Independence just because they're the same level of team we are. And we seem to play down to the level of the competition that we play. So I was surprised that we didn't play a little bit better against Labette County because when we went up to Louisburg, we played some tremendous teams up there and played very competitively. But I didn't think the competitiveness was here tonight like we had last Saturday."
The Tigers will get another test against stiff competition when they go to the Ottawa Tournament Saturday morning. In past seasons, this tournament, like Louisburg, has been one of the tougher ones in eastern Kansas.