TARKIO, Mo. — The premise of my season preview for Nodaway-Holt volleyball — titled ‘Trojans look to diversify offensive attack’ — was that the team needed weapons to step up and take some of the pressure off of all-conference performer Amanda Bohannon.
The Trojans (12-12; 7-5 275) have proven time and again this season that they have done that, but just in case anyone missed the point, they hammered it home in the first round of the district tournament on Monday in Tarkio.
“It has just clicked for the girls,” Nodaway-Holt coach Tobie Bohannon said. “Not just the movement of the game, but the excitement of wanting to play and play with each other. Determination is that word and being scrappy — just not letting the ball hit the floor. They are having fun and that is really the key.”
The fourth-seeded Trojans certainly entered their matchup with fifth-seeded South Holt as the favorites, but the day of the match, they learned that Amanda Bohannon would not be available to play. Suddenly the Trojans were without their most accomplished hitter in the biggest game of the year.
“Honestly, I just give all the credit to the girls,” Tobie Bohannon said. “We have practiced so many different scenarios. Being able to throw somebody new in there and have them adapt and being able to communicate with each other and have it look so smooth, that was key for today.”
Luckily the Trojans have fulfilled that directive that was set out in the season preview and they have one of the most well-rounded teams in the district. They leaned on that depth in a 25-16, 25-14 straight-sets sweep of South Holt.
“It feels pretty good,” Nodaway-Holt sophomore Shaina Culp said. “We were missing one of our starters and we kind of had to adapt to what we were supposed to do and it turned out really good.”
Culp says the key was to not think about the lineup as any different.
“We just had to play like Kloe (Jenkins) was our Amanda,” Culp said.
Senior Kailey Miller and Culp got the Trojans established early with a pair of Miller kills and a big block from Culp to help ignite a 7-0 run to begin the game.
The Trojans kept the momentum rolling and a kill by senior Breanna Day kick-started a 4-0 run to push the lead to 18-6. South Holt worked it back into single digits at 20-12, but freshman Emma Bohannon ended the Knight run with with an ace after her team got a side-out.
“At the beginning of the year, she struggled and we pulled her out for a while and had her play some J.V.,” Tobie Bohannon said. “She was confident tonight.”
Nodaway-Holt took the first set 25-16 after not letting the Knights get closer than six points after the initial 7-0 advantage.
The second set was a different story in the early going with South Holt having a 6-5 lead. The Trojans changed that with a side-out leading to back-to-back aces from junior setter Halle Clement and 5-0 run for Nodaway-Holt to take the lead for good.
“I think she is more confident in her abilities,” Tobie Bohannon said. “We have really put it in her brain that she is the quarterback of our team. She is running our team and has be be able to keep the other team off balance.”
Clement finished the game with 19 assists and three aces.
The lead kept growing to 15-7 with Miller, Day and Kloe Jenkins all getting kills. Jenkins played the entire match in the place of Amanda Bohannon as the Trojans didn’t substitute at all.
“Kloe, as a freshman, she jumped right in there and maybe didn’t have any aces, but she kept that ball going in consistent,” Tobie Bohannon said of Jenkins’ serves.
Emma Bohannon came up with a kill followed by an ace and Miller and Culp each notched kills and the lead reached double digits at 20-10. Culp had an ace and a kill in the final points to send the Trojans into the semifinals with a 25-14 second-set victory.
“Their mindset is that they were determined to win,” Tobie Bohannon said.
The kills were very evenly spread for the Trojans with Day having eight and Miller having seven. It is a common expression to say someone ‘had a quiet number of kills,’ but Culp was seemingly all over the court all night, but was only credited with four kills, so it is safe to say, Culp had a loud four kills.
Day also led the defensive attack with eight digs while Culp had five digs and two blocks. Emma Bohannon and Clement each had three aces.
The Trojans now advance to a date with the top-seeded East Atchison Wolves on Wednesday at 5 p.m. East Atchison had a bye in the first round of districts, but with face a confident Trojan team that beat second-seeded Rock Port in the match prior to districts and are now riding a four-match winning streak.
“We have to play like we did against Rock Port and Mound City,” Culp said. “We have to want to win.”