Volleyball Wildcats cruise in season opener

By: 
Theo Tate

The Montgomery County volleyball team celebrates a point in the first game of its season-opening match against North Callaway on Sept. 3. The Wildcats won in three games. THEO TATE PHOTO

Even though she had to wait another two days to start her senior season with the Montgomery County volleyball team, Taylor Flake was thrilled to be back on the court on Sept. 3 against North Callaway.

“I was very excited because we have a pretty solid team and we all work together pretty well,” Flake said.

Flake helped the Wildcats start their 2020 season on a high note. Montgomery County cruised to a 25-13, 25-17, 25-10 road victory over North Callaway, which is located in Kingdom City.

“Honestly, I think we started off pretty confident,” Flake said. “We’ve been working really hard. I think we did pretty good for our first game.”

The Wildcats also extended their winning streak in Eastern Missouri Conference play to 21 matches. MCHS is the two-time defending league champion.

“It’s always a good way to start,” MCHS coach Rachel Leu said. “We’re just happy to be playing. To get a win on top of it, it’s nice.”

The Wildcats were originally scheduled to start their season on Sept. 1 against Hermann at home. But that contest was postponed due to the high school being closed after a staff member was tested positive for coronavirus.

“That’s going to happen, so you have to take it and roll with it and get back in the gym and keep working for the next game,” Leu said. “Hopefully, that’s the one you’re scheduled to play.”

Flake said she was shocked after finding out the news on the morning of Sept. 1 that the match was called off.

“It’s kind of saddening because you just wanted everything to be so normal,” the senior middle hitter said.

Against North Callaway, Flake turned in a strong serving performance. With her team leading 12-11 in the first game, Flare served seven consecutive points, including four aces. MCHS stormed to a 3-0 lead in the third game and Flake served all of the points.

“I started a different serve this year,” Flake said. “I’ve been practicing a different serve, which is a jump float serve because I injured my arm in the past.”

Last year, Flake enjoyed an outstanding junior season that included her first all-EMO award. She earned second-team honors.

Leu said she has high hopes for Flake for 2020.

“Taylor is a strong player for us,” the MCHS coach said. “She has worked a lot on her serve and it has become more consistent. Offensively, we’re running a lot. So anytime when your middles are going to be consistent, it’s always a good thing.”

This fall, all Missouri high school volleyball matches are now played in a best-of-five format. Also, teams are not allowed to change benches after games and they have to sanitize their hands during timeouts and between games.

“It’s a matter of learning a new routine,” Leu said. “We’ve been doing the same thing for so many years. It’s just different. They’re OK with it. At the end of the day, we’re going to do whatever we have to do so we can play.” 

The Wildcats finished 12-15 overall and 8-0 in league play in 2019. Leu said she was happy her team was back on the volleyball court after practicing for four weeks.

“They were all in a good mood and were glad to not practice again,” she said. “You work that hard and you want to be able to show what you can do. To think you’re going to play one night, then you’re not, it’s obviously disappointing. But we were able to get this game in and hopefully, we can get the rest of them in, too.”

MCHS was scheduled to play a road game against Bowling Green on Sept. 8. The Wildcats travel to New Haven on Sept. 10.

The other players on the MCHS roster are seniors Renee Finke, Kelsey Koch and Anna Shaw, juniors Ella Cobb, Sarah Cluver and Makayla Beaver and sophomore Bailey Fischer.

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