by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Despite being overtaken by No. 3 ranked Highland Wednesday night, Kansas City Kansas Community College still holds its Region VI playoff hopes in its own hands.
“If we win at Hesston next Wednesday, we’re in the playoffs,” KCKCC coach Mary Bruno-Ballou said. “We control our own destiny but Hesston at their place will be tough.”
The Lady Blue Devils gave No. 3 Highland an early scare in KCKCC’s home finale Wednesday, taking the first set 25-23 before the Scotties rallied for 25-15, 25-17 and 25-15 wins.
“Highland is a quality team and a quality program but we’ve always started well against quality teams – and most teams for that part,” Bruno-Ballou said. “But for some reason we are not able to maintain the same intensity and level of play that we’ve started with. That and cutting down on unforced errors are going to be crucial this last week of the season.”
The game was the final home contest for five Blue Devil sophomores – setters Kelsey Rankin of Omaha and Paige Dresslaer of Diamond, Missouri; libero Kellie Sleefe of Wichita Andover Central, middle blocker Randi Johnson of Lee’s Summit and right side hitter Yvette Tamez of Donna, Texas.
At 2-7 in the Jayhawk Conference and 15-13 overall, the Blue Devils are locked in a four-team battle with Hesston (3-5), Cloud County (3-7) and Labette (2-7) for the last two playoff berths. KCKCC has a head-to-head win over Cloud County, which has already closed out league play, while Labette still must play Coffeyville and Hesston has a date Friday with Highland before facing KCKCC.
No. 1 ranked Coffeyville (7-0, 30-2) leads the Jayhawk followed by No. 4 Johnson County (7-1, 24-6), No. 3 Highland (6-1, 30-2) and No. 5 Cowley College (6-1, 29-5).
The Blue Devils will take on three more ranked teams in this week’s Lincoln Land Tournament in Springfield, Illinois.
KCKCC will open play Friday when the Blue Devils take on Waubonsee for the third time this season at 5 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. clash with No. 2 ranked Parkland. On Saturday, the Blue Devils will play No. 15 Lincoln Land at 9:30 a.m. and No. 7 Grand Rapids at 11:30 a.m.