Platte County seemed on the verge of a memorable comeback on Senior Night.
Instead, St. Pius X crashed the party, scoring the final four points of the match to steal a 25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 26-24 victory Monday night at Platte County High School. The Warriors survived two set points and in a back-and-forth and occasionally contentious fourth set due to a group of rulings that led both teams to engage in long conferences with the officials to protest calls.
Platte County (18-8) saw a 10-match winning streak come to an end, unable to overcome 32 attack errors and St. Pius X’s 1-2 punch of sophomore Avery Ashby (21 kills) and senior Lily Holden (14 kills). The two teams had met just over a week earlier with the Pirates sweeping a two-set matchup on the way to a third straight Winnetonka Invitational title.
Neither team could take control of what ended up being the deciding set with ties at 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.
St. Pius X scored three straight to take a 21-19 lead on a kill from Holden, prompting a timeout from Platte County coach Kaitlyn Donovan. The Pirates would respond and tie the score at 22-22, and a kill from senior Mary Grace Hunter and a return error on the Warriors set up the first of two set point opportunities at 24-22.
Platte County wouldn’t score again.
St. Pius X won a frenetic rally to set up the first match point, and after another Platte County timeout, the Warriors cinched the match on the first try and avoided goin got a first-to-15 fifth and deciding set. Pirates senior outside hitter Kate Brown recorded a team-high 18 kills but also committed 10 attacking errors, while junior Karsyn Stehlik (11), Hunter (eight) and surging sophomore middle hitter Kendall Johnson (six) providing a deep attack.
Platte County also recorded eight service aces, three for senior setter Emerson Walter and two each for senior libero Morgan Cox and Brown.
Prior to the game, Platte County honored Brown, Cox, Hunter and Walter as the four-player senior class that played a big role in a record-setting 2020 season, which ended with a third-place Class 4 state finish. The Pirates have surged out to another winning record this year but will face a new postseason path after enrollment pushed them back into the state’s largest classification after a one-year hiatus.
Platte County had been in the midst of a dominating run between the Winnetonka tournament and convincing Suburban Conference Blue Division sweeps before running into the St. Pius X rematch. The Warriors took the opening two sets but couldn’t finish off the sweep, setting up the competitive fourth set.
St. Pius X rushed out to a 5-1 lead before seeing the advantage slowly whittled away until the 11-11 tie started the back-and-forth action.
Platte County started to take advantage of cross-court attacks with Walter (41 sets) making reads to distribute to the attackers. The defense also started to limit Holden in the middle at times with Cox recording a team-high 16 digs followed by Hunter (13), Walter (13) and sophomore Ava Wheeler (10). In the end, the Pirates nearly stole the momentum and took the match the distance after being pushed past three sets for the first time this season. This marked their first loss outside of tournament play.
Platte County 3, Pembroke Hill 0
The Pirates immediately bounced back from Monday’s loss with a 25-17, 25-19, 25-20 road victory Wednesday in Kansas City.
In a rematch of a 2020 Class 4 sectional, Brown put up 17 kills, while Hunter contributed nine, Johnson eight and Stehlik six to lead a concentrated attack for Platte County. Walter served up four of the Pirates eight aces to go with 32 assists, while four players finished in double figures for digs in a strong defensive effort — Cox (16), Hunter (13), Brown (11) and Walter (11).
Platte County won last year’s matchup with Pembroke Hill, as well, on the way to a state semifinal berth. The Pirates will be looking to start a new winning streak but will have to wait. A scheduled return to Suburban Conference Blue Division play at Grandview on Thursday didn’t happen due to an unexpected postponement.
That means the next conference match will be Tuesday vs. Kearney with a Thursday trip to Winnetonka also on the schedule.