by Alan Hoskins
An old-fashioned ice cream social proved even sweeter for the Lady Blue Devils of Kansas City Kansas Community College after their come-from-behind 3-1 volleyball win over Fort Scott Wednesday night.
The win kept the No. 7 ranked Blue Devils (5-1) tied for second in the Jayhawk Conference with No. 9 ranked Johnson County while Fort Scott (4-2) fell into fourth place. A 3-2 home court winner over KCKCC last Wednesday, No. 5 ranked Cowley leads the league at 7-0 but still must play at JCCC Oct. 29.
The Lady Blue Devils (21-6) still have three remaining conference contests, at Labette next Wednesday and at Coffeyville Oct. 22 before playing host to Independence Oct. 29. On the road for four matches in the Central Nebraska Tournament this weekend, KCKCC is not home again until Monday, Oct. 20, when the Blue Devils try to avenge an earlier loss to Missouri State.
The Blue Devils were led by sophomore co-captains Blair Russell of Marysville and Lily Thornberg of Junction City, who provided the decisive points in the final two matches. Stung by Fort Scott’s come-from-behind 25-23 win in the opener, KCKCC looked to have gained momentum with a 25-15 win. As it turned out, it set up a pair of down-to the-wire thrillers before a vocal crowd of more than 100 who were treated after the match to free ice cream and sundaes by CrossRoads Family Church at 8822 Parallel Parkway.
Trailing 21-18 in the third set, the Blue Devils rallied with six straight points for a 24-21 lead and then escaped when Thornberg with a deft southpaw flick returned a serve to an open area, a maneuver practiced earlier in the day.
KCKCC built leads of 22-18 and 24-21 in the fourth set behind four kills by Russell and one by Kailee Dudley only to have Fort Scott go ahead with a chance to win at 25-24 lead. However, the Blue Devils got it even and then won it 27-25 on a block by Peyton Pender of Junction City and a game-ending kill by Jasdel Gonzalez.
The win came after back-to-back 3-0 losses to Iowa Western and Central Nebraska in the tough Central Nebraska Tournament in Columbus Saturday. KCKCC had opened tournament play Friday with wins over Iowa Central 3-1 and Iowa Lakes 3-0.
KCKCC suffered its first conference loss last Wednesday at Cowley, which escaped with a 3-2 win. After losing the opening set 25-18, the Blue Devils won 25-21, 25-22 only to lose 25-14 and 19-17. The win was the 36th Jayhawk Conference win in a row and 65th straight home court win for Cowley.