The Southwest Lady Trojans volleyball team ended the season with a 25-12, 27-25 loss to #9 Diamond in the semifinals of the Class 2 district tournament.
Southwest, which finished the season 15-13-2, led 24-23 in the second set but could get the final point as Diamond rallied at the end. The Lady Trojans were playing shorthanded in the districts because sophomore setter Montana Hendrix was sidelined with a hand injury.
"Injuries are part of sports. They affect all teams at one time of another," said ninth-year Southwest Coach Steve Voyak. "I was impressed at the way the girls pulled together under a difficult circumstance. It was a sign of how the girls have matured."
The Lady Trojans were led by juniors Taylor Mettlach and Chelsie Leroy and freshman Shannon Mitchell. Mettlach was 11 of 11 serving with two aces. She also had 11 of 12 passing and added three attacks and an ace block. Leroy made all 10 of her serves and extended her season streak to 140, a new school record, and added eight digs. Mitchell added 10 attacks and five blocks.
In the district quarterfinals, Southwest defeated Sarcoxie 25-18, 25-17. Mettlach filled up the scorebook with seven digs, four attacks, three aces and a block. Megan Light added six digs, and Atisha Boudreau had six assists.
"Taylor did a nice job of leading the team all season, but she really stepped up her game and leadership at districts when Montana went down. That's the mark of a good leader," Voyak said. "Atisha stepped in to set the ball for the final four games of the season and was terrific. She had 49 assists with only four errors and her hitting, blocking, passing and serving have all improved, so I'll need her to expand her responsibilities next season if she continues to improve at this rapid rate."
The Lady Trojans also finished second in the Ozark 7 Conference with a 5-1 record. It was an improvement over last season's 3-3 mark but short of the goal. Exeter won the title with a perfect 6-0 mark and beat Southwest in Washburn 25-22, 25-23.
"Five points," said Voyak. "The conference championship usually comes down to a few plays. This year it was five. We didn't achieve our goal, but I am still proud of the team's improvement in all phases of the game."
Southwest was better in serving with aces (226 to 184), serve percentage (93.6 percent to 91.7 percent) and errors (89 to 104) over last season. Additionally, the team improved in attacks (572 to 530), assists (476 to 284), blocks (233 to 171) and digs (903 to 684). They also won more overall games, conference games and fared better at both tournaments compared to 2010.
Only Samantha Barberio graduates, and the top eight players return next season.
"How the girls handle the off-season and summer is crucial," Voyak said. "Some will play basketball and run track, which is great, but all will need to improve their game for us to reach our goals next season."
Voyak said the 2012 schedule should be similar to 2011 but he hoped to drop two regular season games and add the Sparta Tournament in mid-October. The Lady Trojans also play in the Diamond Tournament and host Volleyfest each season in mid-September.
Final season leaders
Aces: first, Taylor Mettlach, 62; second, Montana Hendrix, 51; and third, Chelsie Leroy, 34.
Points: first, Mettlach, 294; second, Hendrix, 287; and third, Leory, 247.
Serve percentage: first, Leroy, 97.2 percent; second, Hendrix, 96.5 percent; and third, Mettlach 93.5 percent.
Attacks, first, Shannon Mitchell, 189; second, Mettlach, 128; and third, Megan Light, 72.
Blocks: first, Mitchell 109; second, Mettlach, 63; and third, Atisha Boudreau, 30.
Assists: first, Hendrix, 214; second, Jerri Lynn Henry, 211; and third, Boudreau, 49.
Serve receive: first, Hendrix, 283; second, Leroy, 260; and third, Light, 221.
Digs: first, Leroy, 161; second, Mettlach, 152; and third, Hendrix, 149.