Lady Cougars split with power programs at season opener
The Shawnee Mission Northwest volleyball team proved they belonged, then they proved that they still have a ways to go.
The Cougars downed Blue Valley West in three games last Wednesday before falling to Missouri powerhouse St. Teresa's in two games at a triangular meet held at Blue Valley West.
"We played two very good teams and played very well at times," said Northwest head coach Bonnie Welty. "Beating Blue Valley West was a big win. Against St. Teresa's we beat ourselves a little bit by psyching ourselves out. We need to be better at, 'We can beat these teams that dominate.'"
During the triangular meet, Welty had several players who distinguished themselves led by senior setter Meaghan Doran and senior outside hitter Kim Jones.
"Meaghan did a great job of setting different people and keeping the other team on their toes while Kim had some great kills," Welty said.
Welty was also pleasantly surprised by the performance of sophomore Summer Kelley in the hitter position.
"Summer was a nice surprise," Welty said. "She made some good hitting choices. Almost every ball she hit went down."
Welty also singled out libaro Macee Wilson, outside hitter Sara Sliva, and senior Angela Mings for their stand out defensive performances, noting that the team has made vast improvements from last year in that area. The defense contributed to a team togetherness that carried them through the win over West.
"I was impressed with how well we played together coming out in the season," said Welty.
However, Welty was also in a position to discuss what needed improvement in her team before they come up against a power program like St. Teresa's again.
"We've got to improve our passing," said Welty. "We had too many passing errors. We had too many long periods where we made mistakes. It's okay to make one mistake here or there but we would have stretches of four or five mistakes in a row. If we can quit doing that we'll be much more successful."
This week the Cougars open Sunflower League play at home with a quad meet featuring Olathe East, Olathe South, and Shawnee Mission East before heading to the Lee's Summit West tournament on Saturday where one of the participants will again be St. Teresa's. Welty believes that, to make it through this particularly tough week, the Cougars will have to concentrate.
"We have to have focused practices," said Welty. "We've got to be focused on passing and being aggressive and going after things. I want us to concentrate on opening league play and going 3-0 to start."