Ahead of their pivotal matchup against their top competitor in the district, the Prairiland Lady Patriots had to take care of business at home against Commerce on Friday. Strong play on the front line and effective serving throughout helped the Lady Pats trounce Commerce in straight sets. In the end, Prairiland took down the Lady Tigers in Pattonville by a final score of 25-18, 25-8, and 25-13.
Reinforcements are on hand
Prairiland (18-2, 9-0) faced some resistance from the visitors in the first set, but the Lady Patriots settled in quickly thanks to plenty of help from their younger players.
“We lost a lot from last year’s team, so me and Reese (Parris) were a little nervous about it coming in. We were a little worried about that and if we were even going to be able to have a season (from COVID),” Prairiland senior middle T.J. Folse said. “These underclassmen came in and started working hard, and we were really glad about that. Our communication and level of play are way up right now. We just want to continue playing well and go far like we did last year.”
The positive dynamic between the upperclassmen and underclassmen has been an integral part of Prairiland’s success thus far. The newly forged relationships were a huge lift to help the Lady Pats trounce Commerce and move to 9-0 in district play. In addition to that, the younger players have been a plus for both this season and the program’s success as a whole.
“The good thing about it is that the older players have really taken the younger ones under their wings,” Lady Patriots head volleyball coach Emily Vanderburg said. “It’s allowed for the younger ones to really buy in. They know what the program is about and they have seen our successes from the past. Being younger, they know they have to step up to continue that success. It has been really great to see.”
The showdown begins in Pattonville
In the early going, Prairiland held a 14-13 lead in the opening set. However, a tip from junior middle Abi Farmer and a kill from sophomore Kyndal Yaross increased the lead to 16-13. Later in the set, Prairiland pulled away and sealed it with a pair of big plays late. An emphatic kill from senior middle Reese Parris and an ace from sophomore setter Chloe Raley capped the set at 25-18.
Lady Patriots dominate
In the second set, the Lady Patriots were dominant from the opening serve. Prairiland opened up a 6-0 lead to begin the second set, and one of Raley’s eight aces capped the opening run. Commerce called a timeout, but the Lady Tigers’ fortunes did not improve.
Then, junior outside hitter Ali Sessums pounded three aces a few points later to increase the advantage to 13-1. After that, a kill from Raley and an ace by Yaross stretched Prairiland’s lead to 18-6. Folse and Parris helped the home team close it out impressively with a flurry of blocks and kills.
In the final frame, the Lady Patriots started out trailing 4-3. However, a quick 7-0 run put the Lady Patriots back in command ahead 10-4. As Prairiland’s lead continued to swell, Commerce could not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
On Friday, Prairiland’s service game was a catalyst in the match. As a team, the Lady Patriots served 23 aces. The Lady Pats’ aggressive serving routinely kept Commerce out of system on offense and defense. With that, the girls know the importance of their serving.
“We serve a lot in our practices. It’s one of the main things we do,” said Raley, who recorded a game-high eight aces. “I think serving is a huge part of the game. Good serves keep the defense off balance and being an aggressive server overall really helps.”
Raley led Paris with 16 assists and 8 aces, while Hanna Cope had 13 assists and 5 digs. Parris contributed with 8 kills, 3 blocks, and 1 ace, while Folse added 7 kills and 3 aces. Junior Lady Patriots Sessums and Farmer also starred in the win. Sessums finished with 7 kills, 10 digs, and 4 aces, while Farmer compiled 4 kills and 2 blocks. Yaross recorded 7 aces and Lanna Rinney registered 11 digs.
Sharp play and a supportive home crowd helped the Lady Pats trounce Commerce in a routine sweep. Now, Prairiland will need more of the same for their next opponent.
“We really have to be ready for them,” Vanderburg said of Emory Rains. “I told them from the get-go that we beat them the first time around, and now we have a target on our backs. They want revenge and they want to come in and get us on our home floor. We just have to be ready and focused with that mindset of, ‘this is our game.’”
Next, the Lady Patriots will host second-place Emory Rains in a crucial district showdown at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Pattonville. For more sports coverage, click here.