It has been a tradition over the last few years that a pair of the top volleyball programs in southeast Kansas square off to open the season.

It has been a tradition over the last few years that a pair of the top volleyball programs in southeast Kansas square off to open the season.
Saturday at the Ted R. Taylor Gymnasium was no different as Girard — the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee League defending champion — squared off with Pittsburg — the defending Southeast Kansas League champion.
It was Girard that got the upper hand in a 25-16, 25-20 win, but not without bumps along the way.
“We wanted to keep them on their heels and I think we did a decent job of that,” said Girard head coach Dale Coomes. “Conversely, they did a good job of slowing us down as well.”
Senior Carly Twarog led Girard with four kills in each game against Pittsburg while Haley Brown came through with five kills in the first game.
“We just didn’t counter their attack very well in the first game,” said Pittsburg head coach Mary Packard.
But, in the second game, the Dragons worked out their kinks and took Girard the distance before the Trojans were able to put the game — and the match — away.
Pittsburg senior Jessica Wade led the Dragons with five kills while fellow senior Kristina Willis had four kills and six blocks. Kathryn Montague added three kills to the Dragons’ tally.
“Our passes the first game were short and our sets were coming behind us,” Packard said. “We worked on that throughout the day.”
It seemed to work as the Dragons took care of league rival Fort Scott, 25-11, 25-21 in a match where Montague led Pittsburg with eight kills and senior setter Kelly Clark had 23 assists.
Haley Drenick picked up a pair of kills and a pair of aces against the Tigers.
At the same time, Girard held off Columbus, 25-16, 25-15. Carly Lallemand had 12 assists and Twarog added eight more kills to her total for the day.
“It was a tough game for us,” Coomes said. “We didn’t do a good job of keeping our intensity up.”
The Dragons also had difficulty with Columbus before putting them away 26-24, 25-11.
Willis had six kills and eight blocks while Wade (3) and Drenick (4) combined for seven more.
Ashley Willis came off the bench and added three kills and a pair of aces in the Dragons’ win.
“We kind of lost focus and we had to come from behind in the first game,” Packard said. “We were able to adjust in that second game.”
On the other floor, Girard dispatched with Fort Scott, 25-15, 25-18 to close out the day.
Morgan Boore had four kills for the Trojans while Twarog had five, brining her total for the three matches to 21.
“They [Fort Scott] are a good program,” Coomes said. “They really slowed down our middle attack.”
In the middle, Andi Umbarger and Kylie Kunshek combined for just three kills in the match.

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140. Follow Morning Sun sports at twitter.com/mssports.