Webster Groves Statesmen Top Kirkwood Pioneers 25-14, 25-17

Only 3 matches left in regular season

The Kirkwood Pioneers and Webster Groves Statesmen compete May 1 at Roberts Gym at Webster Groves High School. The Statesmen topped the Pioneers 25-14, 25-17 in the Suburban South match. photo by Bill Burckhalter (click for larger version)
May 04, 2012
The first point during Webster Groves High School's 25-14, 25-17 Suburban South boys volleyball victory over rival Kirkwood High School at Roberts Gymnasium perhaps came as a surprise to the Pioneer players.

Sophomore middle blocker Matt Sorensen, not senior outside hitter Ryan Mahl, provided the first kill for the Statesmen in an empty area for the first point of the May 1 match. Though the first game had eight lead changes and seven ties, Webster Groves turned a 7-7 tie into a rout. The Statesmen never trailed in the second game.

No wonder Webster Groves, which ran up 20 wins and no losses since the beginning of the season, improved to 21-2-1 overall and 6-0 in conference. Kirkwood dropped to 12-8 and 5-1 in the league.

"They were expecting us to chuck it up to Ryan," Webster Groves Coach Helen Buckley said. "Today, this was sweet. We did stuff we haven't done all season, especially running our middle. We can't just rely on Ryan from the outside."

Despite going 2-2-1 in the highly-regarded inaugural Lafayette Invitational on April 28, Buckley said, her players learned that getting kills from the middle hitters - and not just Mahl from the outside - will make the Statesmen even more dangerous in the post-season.

If the Statesmen win their final three matches of the regular season (host Parkway Central at 5:15 p.m. on May 3, at Bishop DuBourg at 5 p.m. on May 7 and host Fort Zumwalt South at 5 p.m. on May 8), it will likely earn them the top seed in the Class 3 Tournament.

"I really like the way we played today," Buckley said. "Kirkwood? Are you kidding me? This doesn't happen very often. Overall, I couldn't be happier."

The Pioneers will host St. John Vianney at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

"We have to focus on that match," said Kirkwood Coach Keith Touzinsky. "We can't do anything about this one anymore. There's a reason why they were undefeated for most of the season. They pass the ball well. They hit the ball well. Their setter (Richards) confused our middle blocker all day long.

"We came out flat," he said. "That's been our problem all year long. We didn't pass the ball well. Our blocking at the net let us down. It was pretty much a team loss. We didn't play very good team defense. We didn't play very good team offense."

Webster's Mahl, who will play at St. Ambrose University, had 12 kills to bring his season total to 216, followed by senior middle blocker Spencer Lanig (six kills), senior outside hitter Alex Kutz (four kills) and Sorensen (two kills). Senior setter John Richards had 27 assists. Kutz also had seven service points.

"We knew we had to mix it up," Mahl said. "We had confidence. We knew could win. We did our job and got it done."

If Webster Groves advances to the state finals on May 18 at Lindenwood University, then the seven seniors will miss their graduation ceremony, which happens to be on the same night. Last season, the Statesmen's quest ended in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Vianney.

"We know we can be in the finals," Mahl said. "We know we can be there. It's just up to us to get there."

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