The Tigers went 2-1 in the quad, beating Prairie View 25-17, 25-9, and Osawatomie 19-25, 25-17, 25-22. They lost to Louisburg, traditionally one of the tougher teams in the Kansas City area, 25-20, 25-20.
Osawatomie brought with them a 6-foot sophomore named Tayler Soucie. Those who follow sports north of here know the name Soucie as one might know Meiers in Pittsburg or Posches in Parsons.
Louisburg brought in a squad with two hitters, seniors Coleen O'Brien and Marisa Mackey, as good as any two around.
"Those are the best two teams we've seen by far," Fort Scott head coach Carol Bingesser said. "They've got great middle hitters. Louisburg didn't let a ball drop. Several times, we started to cheer because any other time, those balls hit the floor. And this time, they didn't hit the floor. They picked it back up because they play great defense."
The night started off the the sweep of Prairie View. The Tigers (11-2) jumped out to a 10-3 lead in game one before the Buffalos got within 10-8.
Fort Scott outscored Prairie View 40-18 the rest of the match, going out to a 19-2 lead in the second game.
Mallory Shelton had 5 kills for the Tigers while Megan McDermed had 4. Kenzie Heatherly recorded 6 assists and Shelton served 4 aces.
"We played pretty good against Prairie View," Bingesser said. "I thought we were passing well, we were serving well. We set well and since we set well, we got some pretty good hits."
Soucie played a big role in the first game against the Tigers as she matched up against Shelton, Fort Scott's 6-foot junior, and gave her a challenge.
"Against Osawatomie, that first game, we had some serving errors," Bingesser said. "But, oh, my (Soucie) stuffed Mallory. And that's the first time Mallory's come across somebody that's put it back in her face. And we're so used to going to Mallory, we had a hard time adjusting to that. But once we did adjust, then it got better."
It was a matter of passing and setting. As Bingesser said, the passes and sets usually go to Shelton in the middle. But in this game, passes that usually result in opportunities for kills were instead setting Shelton up to be blocked by Soucie. Once the Tigers adjusted their passes to get around Soucie, the offense ran better.
The Tigers had better matchups on the outside and in their rotation that the Trojans. When the setters went outside, Jenna Campbell was able to set some kills. And when each team's rotation had Shelton and Soucie in the back row, Kelsey Middelton had a better matchup in the front than Osawatomie could throw at her.
With the adjustments made, the Tigers were able to take control of the second game about midway through, going on a 10-1 run to take a 15-8 lead.
Osawatomie got back within three points twice. But Shelton got a kill and McDermed followed with another to start a 5-1 run that closed out the second game and brought the match to a draw.
Osawatomie went out to a 9-2 lead in the third game. But again, the matchups as the teams rotated began to favor the Tigers.
Sophomore Taylor Grant got a kill that sparked an 8-0 run, which included two Middleton kills, two Campbell kills and three straight McDermed aces, to put the Tigers ahead 13-10.
A Campbell kill gave Fort Scott serve at 15-13 and Kenzie Heatherly served up back-to-back aces.
This time, Osawatomie fought back. Soucie served three consecutive aces to cap a run that tied the game at 20-20.
The teams traded the next five serves. Osawatomie errors gave the Tigers the final two points of the match.
"The girls battled back in that second game," Bingesser said. "Then they came back and just finished them off."
Shelton and Campbell each finished with 7 kills while Middleton had 5. Heatherly dealt 15 assists and served 3 aces. Shelton also had 5 blocks while McDermed had 4 aces in all.
Soucie had 18 kills for Osawatomie.
The Tigers and Wildcats struggled to gain control in the first game of the final match. The lead exceeded 4 points only a couple of times for either team, but the second time was when O'Brien served an ace to end it.
"In the first game against Louisburg, we had too many passing errors," Bingesser said. "We passed it over the net but then they pounded it right back at us. And our serving broke down on us. It broke down when we needed it. We'd start to make a little run but we'd miss a serve."
In game two, the Tigers overcame some struggles, including allowing three straight ace serves at one point, and fought to get in front 19-14 as Middleton found the floor.
But the Wildcats seized control and outscored the Tigers 11-1 the rest of the way with the one point they allowed scored on a serve into the net.
"When you get up on somebody like that, you have to finish," Bingesser said. "We couldn't finish and we let them score almost 10 straight points."
The numbers were down quite a bit for the Tigers in the final match compared to the first two. Shelton had just 5 kills and the Tigers as a team had only 12. Heatherly had 5 assists and Caitlin Shorter had 4. Shelton recorded 3 blocks and the team served just 3 aces.
The Tigers will play in the Pittsburg Tournament Saturday. They have been placed in Pool 2 with Labette County, Nevada and Blue Valley Southwest. Pittsburg is in Pool 1 with Baxter Springs, Carthage (Mo.) and Girard. Play begins at 9 a.m. but the Tigers have to wait to play their first match until one of the three courts open up as their game with Blue Valley Southwest is fourth on the docket.
Next Thursday, Southeast Kansas League play starts at Parsons with Coffeyville also in attendance.
"If we can play with the intensity we played with against (Osawatomie) against people in our league, we'll be fine," Bingesser said. "But we've got to learn to finish."