(Kenny Felt/Captured Images)
Labette County defeated Independence in the first match, sweeping 25-15, 25-14. Then Fort Scott swept Indy in the middle match, 25-17, 25-19.
The finale was hotly contested but LCHS got the sweep, 25-21, 27-25.
"I thought we played well overall," Fort Scott head coach Carol Bingesser said. "The girls' intensity level was definitely up. I've never seen them more ready to play than what they were tonight. We just had some unfortunate things that happened at the wrong times."
Fort Scott, Chanute and Pittsburg were all tied for the SEK lead going into the night. But by the end of the night, Pittsburg was on top all by itself after sweeping Chanute and Coffeyville.
Pittsburg is 4-0 in the SEK (12-12 overall), while the Tigers (17-10), LCHS (17-4), Chanute (15-6) and Parsons (10-12) are all tied for second at 3-1. Fort Scott plays Pittsburg next Thursday at Columbus and Chanute in two weeks at Iola. They've already beaten Parsons.
The Tigers had trouble with Independence (1-3, 17-7) in the first game. They couldn't get more than a 3-point lead early. Then the 'Dogs rallied to take a 15-13 lead.
An Independence error gave the Tigers serve down by one point, 17-16. They held serve the rest of the game with Mallory Shelton picking up five kills in that run.
The success continued early in the second game. The Bulldogs served first but Shelton got a kill. Then the Tigers held serve for the next 6 points. So over two games, Fort Scott enjoyed a 17-0 run in which it held serve 16 consecutive times.
Independence managed to get back to within 16-13 but that was as close as it could get. Taylor Grant stopped the run with a kill and Fort Scott got the lead back up to 20-13. Another Grant kill later ended the match.
Shelton had 12 kills in the match while Megan McDermed had 6 and Grant finished with 4.
"We had girls that hit the ball harder than I've ever seen them," Bingesser said. "Mallory hit the ball harder than I've ever seen her hit it. Megan McDermed was hitting the ball tremendously hard right down the line. She normally doesn't hit down the line but she's been working all week on that."
Caitlin Shorter and Kenzie Heatherly each handed out 10 assists. Heatherly also served 2 aces.
The match with Labette County started off going back and forth. Finally, a 7-2 run gave the Tigers a 15-11 lead, which turned out to be their largest of the entire match.
Labette County reclaimed the lead 19-17 before Jenna Campbell's kill stopped the Grizzlies' run. They would hang within 1 or 2 points for the next four rotations before LC closed things out with a 4-1 run.
Neither team had a run of more than 3 straight points in the second game and there were 12 ties.
The Tigers looked like they had some momentum going on two occasions late. Kelsey Middleton had 2 blocks in a mini-run that put Fort Scott up 17-15. But LCHS then went on a 4-1 run to reclaim the lead.
Later, the Tigers took advantage of Grizzly errors to get a 4-1 run of their own and go ahead 22-20.
Shelton nearly put a hole in the court on a kill to put Fort Scott up 23-22. But Michaela O'Brien tied it with a kill of her own.
McDermed took care of a free ball at the net to put the Tigers ahead again. LCHS got a kill to tie it at 24-24.
An great effort by libero Marliss Allen kept a ball alive for McDermed to kill to put the Tigers ahead again. But the Grizzlies got another kill to tie it and a pair of Fort Scott errors gave Labette County the sweep.
"Labette's just scrappy," Bingesser said. "They are just the scrappiest bunch of girls ever and they play great defense. But we knew that and talked about that. They just cover the floor so well and that's something we need to learn how to do. They tipped on us way back in there in those far deep corners and we got caught a couple of times playing up."
Shelton had 14 kills and 3 blocks for the Tigers. Middleton had 5 blocks and 6 kills. McDermed and Campbell had 4 each. Shorter handed out 9 assists while Heatherly dished 7.
"As far as getting beat, we gave it everything we could," Bingesser said. "We got beat fair and square. It wasn't like we laid down or gave it to them. We played really well."
NOTES -- This was Senior Night and the last home match for five Tigers: Allen, Campbell, McDermed, Shorter and Kori Allen....
The Tigers also were the host for "Dig Pink" night, sponsored by Mercy Health Center to promote breast cancer awareness. Several breast cancer survivors were recognized, including Bingesser's sister, Clara Schofield, Kori Allen's grandmother, Rose Troth, and Middleton's grandmother, LaVon Middleton. The Tigers also played in pink jersies. Other area schools, including Fort Scott Community College, Uniontown, Pleasanton and Jayhawk-Linn, are planning or have had their own "Dig Pink" nights....
The Tigers will be heading north for Sub-State this season. Fort Scott and Iola will be the only Southeast Kansas League teams at the Louisburg Class 4A Regional Tournament on Oct. 23. Anderson County, Prairie View, Louisburg, Prairie View, Osawatomie, Paola and Spring Hill will join them. The other SEK schools, plus Girard and Baxter Springs, will play at Chanute....