High school girls tennis
The MICDS Rams finished second in the Class 1 state team tennis tournament, losing 5-3 to Metro League rival John Burroughs at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
“The girls played their hearts out and I couldn’t be more proud,” coach Julie Johnson said. “I think that any time you are playing for a state championship there are bound to be nerves.”
The Rams’ Sarah Mirkhaef and Juliet Alpert won a third set tiebreaker in doubles at No. 2. Yoana Ivanova and Lindsay Parks won at No. 3 doubles. Parks won her singles match.
During the regular season, MICDS had defeated John Burroughs 6-3.
“I think the difference was that Burroughs’ No. 1 and No. 3 were out during our first match,” Johnson said. “We match up well against them, but they just played better than we did.
“Our girls were sad about the loss.”
MICDS last won state in 2009.
“I am extremely proud to coach this group,” Johnson said. “We had an amazing season with a 15-1 record. We played at a high level all year and we made it to the state final. It’s hard to beat that.”
Johnson is excited about the future.
“We are not losing anyone in the top six and I know we will be even stronger next year because of all the success we had this year,” Johnson said. “Experiencing the state tournament also will be a huge benefit should we make it into the post season next year.”
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St. Joseph’s Academy junior Ellie Burger finished second in the Class 2 state singles tournament. Burger lost 6-1, 6-1 to Lafayette’s Caroline Pozo.
“Ellie had a marvelous state, all the more so considering she had the hardest draw of all,” coach Doug Smith said.
The season was a good one for Burger, who hurt her hip last year and missed her entire sophomore season. She had a torn labrum, which required surgery to repair and rehabilitation that required most of a year.
“The rehab was rough, and we kept her out of singles early on until it she felt fully ready for it,” Smith said. “She started slowly, but when she downed Kirkwood’s Bridget Mayfield 6-3, 6-1 in a dual we knew the old Ellie was back. From that point on she just kept climbing until she seemed very much ready for state.”
In the first round at state, Burger beat Eleanor Fay, of Rock Bridge, 6-1, 6-1.
“Eleanor Fay had won Rock Bridge’s district title by beating her own teammate, the Bruins’ No. 1 player, so I figured she’d be formidable, but Ellie handled her nicely,” Smith said.
In the quarterfinals, she stopped Margo Gerke, of Notre Dame de Sion, 6-3, 6-1. In the semifinals, she beat Parkway Central junior Elena Wilner 6-0, 6-2.
“Against Wilner, she again took charge of the points and dictated play,” Smith said.
In the title match, Burger faced her old teammate in Pozo, who played for St. Joseph’s as a freshman before transferring to Lafayette.
“They are good friends, and they like to hit with each other,” Smith said. “In fact, they warmed up with each other prior to their respective semifinal matches. And at the end of their final, the two capped their customary handshake with a warm hug.”
Pozo played well, Smith said.
“Caroline was very much on her game. She has all the shots in the game plus she has a relentless mindset,” Smith said.
Burger finished with a singles record this season of 20-4.
The Angels also qualified two doubles teams to the state meet.
Alexandra Rogers and Riley Kelley, of Liberty, defeated the St. Joseph’s duo of Morgan Kane and Elizabeth Hartnagel 6-0, 6-3. Kelen Caskey and Pranathi Gannavaram, of Lee’s Summit West, defeated the Angels’ tandem of Madeline Ohlms and Megan Lenzen 7-6, 6-1.
“Both of our doubles teams lost to teams that finished on the medalist stand, so there’s that,” Smith said. “But truth be told, I’m inclined to think our doubles teams were just sort of played out after the grueling team competition while their opponents who were not involved with the team play came into the state doubles fresher.”
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Parkway Central junior Elena Wilner finished third in Class 2 state singles competition.
“Elena had played strongly leading up to the state,” Parkway Central coach Lee Hays said. “Until the draw is posted you don’t have a gauge on expectations. Once we saw the draw, we felt she had a shot at the podium.”
Wilner opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Nixa’s Hannah Nelson. In the quarterfinals, she beat Kirkwood’s Bridget Mayfield 6-3, 7-5.
“This match was very tense and hard fought,” Hays said. “Bridget played very well and pushed Elena on every point. It was fun to watch. In the second set, Elena was down 4-0 and came back fighting with a gutsy performance to win in two sets.”
In the semifinals, Wilner lost 6-0, 6-2 to St. Joseph’s Ellie Burger.
“Elena and Ellie had not played since their freshman year,” Hays said. “Ellie played an exceptional match making very few errors and had answers for everything that Elena tried.”
In the third-place match, Wilner beat Lee’s Summit North’s Logan Morrissey 6-2, 6-4.
“This match was also very tense and hard fought,” Hays said. “It was very apparent that both players wanted to win this match from the very beginning. Logan and Elena battled each other with two very different styles of play. In the second set, Elena was down 3-0, very similar to the Mayfield match and came back with another dig deep performance to win.”
Wilner finished the season with a 12-2 singles record.
“I’m looking forward to next year’s season,” Hays said. “I am happy to have her and most of our team return. She is a very strong, mental tough player who is dedicated to improving. This alone gives her a lot of upside potential.”
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The Marquette doubles duo of sophomore Ellie Lewis and junior Athena Zeng finished third in the Class 2 state tennis tournament.
“We thought they had a chance to win it all,” Mustangs coach Matt Del Pizzo said. “We knew it would be hard to do, and we would need to play great and get some breaks, but that it was possible.”
They opened with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Catherine Henne and Lannie Jones, of Notre Dame de Sion.
In the quarterfinals, the Mustangs duo beat Nixa’s Maran Attwooll and Hanah Todd 6-0, 6-1.
“The match lasted 35 to 40 minutes. We played very aggressive, short points and hit a lot of winners,” Del Pizzo said.
The Mustangs tasted defeat in the semifinals. Lewis and Zeng lost 6-3, 7-5 to the Rock Bridge duo of Faith Wright and Katherine Dudley.
“We played them the Saturday before state and lost 8-6, so we knew we could play with them but also knew that we had to play with a lead,” Del Pizzo said. “The first few games went back and forth, but they got momentum toward the end of the set and closed it out. We went up 5-2 in the second set and couldn’t close them out. Rock Bridge is a battle-tough team that kept playing aggressive and got us on our heels and we could get the momentum back.
“The girls were very upset after that match.”
In the third-place match, Marquette’s tandem got by Rock Bridge’s Hannah Pohl and Ronni Farid 6-1, 6-3
“Ellie was determined to win this match and we came out aggressive and went up quick and didn’t look back,” Del Pizzo said. “I was extremely happy to finish strong but disappointed because of the semifinal match and the position they were in to win the second set and then let it slip away.
“They came to state wanting to win it all and knew they could. They had beaten Lindbergh earlier in the year. The only team they hadn’t beaten in the state was the Rock Bridge team they met in the semis.”
The pair finished 26-4 as a doubles team.
High school girls volleyball
The Lafayette Lancers captured their ninth consecutive district title at the Class 4 District 3 championship when they swept Eureka 25-14, 25-22.
The Lancers also swept Washington 25-19, 28-26 in the semifinals.
“The girls came out on fire in the first game and were actually up by 10 points at one point,” coach Zach Young said. “The second game I thought Washington played very well and jumped out to a 9-2 lead. Our team did a phenomenal job persevering and taking the second set 28-26.”
Then Lafayette turned right around and beat Eureka to claim the district crown.
“We came out on fire the first set and were playing very consistently with a lot of passion,” Young said. “The second set was back and forth and we made a couple of key plays down the stretch to win the second set.”
Several Lancers stood out in the district competition, he said.
Amanda Beaton dominated with 20 kills in four games, he said. Taryn Griffey had 12 kills and four blocks on the night. Alayna Martin had 11 kills and 26 assists during four sets. Morgan Kantouth had 26 digs and 40 serve receptions with only two errors.