(Kenny Felt/Exclusive to the Tribune)
Fort Scott was swept by Osawatomie, 25-13, 25-12. Then they fell in a Southeast Kansas League match to rival Pittsburg, 25-19, 25-21.
The Tigers dropped to 1-4 in the SEK and 8-20 overall. They were just 1-7 at home this season and have lost 11 of their last 13 matches.
The story against Osawatomie was a familiar one. The Tigers found themselves on the short end of early deficits. They trailed 6-0 in the first set and 15-3 in the second.
The Trojans (19-6) also swept the Tigers in a match at Osawatomie on Sept. 13. But Tiger Head Coach Carol Bingesser noticed that Osawatomie was a better-rounded team than the last time Fort Scott played them. The first time around, the Trojans relied heavily on 6' 2" middle hitter Tayler Soucie. This time around, teammates Suzy Waddle and Taryn McReynolds stepped up and played well, making it harder for the Tigers to play defense.
"We had a hard time with Osawatomie just with the fact that (Soucie is) so smart," Bingesser said. "We had a hard time trying to block her because she was hitting so much higher than we were capable of reaching. And she hit the ball so hard, we thought we had to slam at the ball. But they had a couple of other girls who I thought stepped up and helped her out. The first time we played them, she was a one-man show. But she took control of the game tonight."
Sidney Maycumber had 6 kills against Osawatomie while Breanne Lawrence had 4. Maddi Allen and Meredith Hill each handed out 4 assists. Ericah Shoemaker served 4 aces. Paige Denton had 26 digs while Shoemaker and Shelby Maycumber each had 11. Soucie had 16 kills for the Trojans
Osawatomie beat Pittsburg in the middle match, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21. The Trojans led the opening set 19-14 before the Purple Dragons (3-1, 19-10) scored 11 of the last 15. The second set was tied at 9-9 while the third set was nip-and-tuck almost all the way.
Then the Dragons came out and took an 11-3 lead in the first set against Fort Scott. The Tigers scored the next 5 but Pittsburg eventually extended the lead to 20-10.
Sidney Maycumber's kill brought Fort Scott within 23-19. Then a replay was called on what would have been the Tigers' 20th point. Pittsburg got a tip on the replay, then served out the set.
Fort Scott looked to have reversed its form in the early part of the second set, going out to an 8-3 lead. But Pittsburg began to creep back, getting within 10-9.
The teams exchanged serves for a while before Rheid Tridle won serve back for the Dragons at 18-17. Pittsburg scored the next three, with Tridle making it 20-18.
"We struggled so much that even when we were ahead, we had trouble finishing." Bingesser said. "We're not in that situation enough to push it. But the confidence against Pittsburg was better. We played them all summer long and they know we can beat them because we beat them this summer. We have a hard time getting started. Once we get started, we're OK. But it takes us forever."
The Tigers tied it once more at 20-20. But Bethanne Elliott's kill started a set-ending 5-1 run. It was Pittsburg's third win in as many matches against Fort Scott this season.
"I was proud of the girls because we battled and we hadn't seen that in a while," Bingesser said. "And that makes me feel better because we have some tough matches coming up."
Jillian Lattimer had 5 kills for the Tigers while Sidney Maycumber finished with 4. Allen handed out 8 assists. Denton came up with 11 digs.
Fort Scott has a week off before going to Chanute for a triangular next Thursday. The Tigers will face the Blue Comets in their league finale while also facing a new opponent, Wichita Word of Life. The Fire replaces Iola, which was a part of this triangular when it was a member of the Southeast Kansas League. However, Iola wasn't able to continue participating due to its commitment to the Pioneer League, which it joined this school year.