Platte County blanks Kearney to lay claim to conference title

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For the first time since the 2017, Platte County captured the Suburban Conference Blue Division title, and the Pirates did it in convincing fashion with a 9-0 sweep of Kearney on Tuesday in Kearney. This marked the eighth league title in program history (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021).

Never before had Platte County beat its top rival in this manner.

Kearney won both meetings between the two teams in 2020, including a tight 5-4 victory in the Class 2 District 8 semifinals. This time around, the Bulldogs trailed 3-0 after doubles and would not recover.

Platte County seniors Bri White and Rayna Garcia recorded the first victory at No. 3 by an 8-3 margin, and shortly after, seniors Sophie Curtis and Taylor Mayne prevailed 8-4 at No. 2. The biggest victory came at No. 1 with seniors Molly McBratney and Maria Molinari surviving by a score of 9-7.

Kearney lost a chance at momentum and then lost the dual.

Curtis won 10-3 at No. 3 singles, and McBratney secured the dual for Platte County with a 10-0 shutout at No. 1. Mayne (10-4 at No. 5), junior Ellie Fish (10-4 at No. 6), Garcia (10-4 at No. 4) and Molinari (10-6 at No. 2) also won for the Pirates.

Platte County entered the season with a senior-heavy lineup and McBratney, a returning state qualifier at the top of the lineup. However, the losses of graduated Emma Murray, injured senior Aleah Dixon and senior Paige Chase, who opted not to return this season, the Pirates still had questions. Molinari, Curtis, Garcia and Mayne stepped up the ladder int he lineup, while White and Fish have been a solid duo. White has mostly played doubles, while Fish mans the No. 6 spot in singles as the only non-senior receiving regular playing time.

With the win over Kearney, Platte County improved to 6-1 overall in duals.

Platte County 7, Oak Park 2

McBratney quickly avenged a loss last Monday after having lost Oak Park’s Kylie Michael just three days earlier in the William Chrisman Tournament.

Platte County took five of six singles matches, including McBratney’s 8-4 win at No. 1. With Molinari unavailable to start the dual, Curtis moved up to No. 2 and picked up her ninth consecutive with a dominant 8-2 decision, while Garcia went up to No. 3 and earned an 8-4 victory. Notably, White made her career debut in singles, falling behind 5-0 before rallying for a 9-8 win in a tiebreaker.

With the match decided at 5-1 entering doubles, McBratney and Molinari at No. 1 (8-5) and Curtis and Mayne at No. 2 (8-6) were also victorious for Platte County, which has now won eight straight duals in a typically competitive series with the Lady Oakies.

Cameron Tournament

Keith brought seniors only to the Cameron Tournament last Wednesday, showing off impressive depth with eight players used across five flights.

No team scores were kept, but Platte County collected five top-three individual finishes, including an impressive varsity debut for Bethany Zenil and Katie Mills in the C Doubles. Zenil and Mills went 4-0 and captured the Pirates’ only first-place medals.

Molinari (B Singles), Curtis and Mayne (A Doubles) and Garcia and White (B Doubles) all placed second with 3-1 records. McBratney lost in the semifinals but finished third in A singles.

“We just brought seniors to this tournament, which featured primarily Class 1 teams,” Keith said. “It was a really fun day, and although we didn’t play our best tennis, it was a good day for team-building.”

Liberty Tournament

In a dual format, Platte County recovered from an opening loss to the hosts to claim 5-4 victories over Kickapoo and Helias Catholic and take third place as a team Friday in Liberty. The Pirates had yet to win a dual in this tournament in three previous tries before this year’s competition.

Closing against Helias, Platte County trailed 2-1 after doubles with McBratney and Molinari claiming the lone win at No. 1. The Pirates took 4 of 6 singles matches to swing the outcome. McBratney (No. 1), Curtis (No. 3), Garcia (No. 4) and Fish (No. 6) all claimed matches in what ended up a strong performance across the board, according to Keith.

Helias led 4-3 when Curtis and Garcia fought back to win in tiebreakers and claim the team victory.

“I thought we showed a ton of fight in this match,” he said. “Molly and Maria played their best doubles of the season in all three matches, and Molly played her best singles of the year, as well. I was also really impressed with Sophie and Rayna.”

In the opener against Liberty, McBratney and Molinari claimed a doubles victory at No. 1, and McBratney did the same at No. 1 singles in what ended up a 7-2 team loss.

“Really good wins against an always-tough Liberty team,” Keith said. “This was also a good experience for us as a team because Liberty is really solid, and β€” in my opinion β€” the standard of excellence in the Northland year after year. It was good for the girls to see how they played and what all we needed to improve upon moving forward.”

Platte County recovered quickly against Kickapoo, taking a 2-1 lead out of doubles with wins for Curtis and Mayne at No. 2 and Garcia and White at No. 3. A split of the singles matches ended up being enough for the Pirates. The back end of the lineup did the work with wins for Garcia (No. 4), Mayne (No. 5) and Fish (No. 6).

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