KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Winning a conference title is hard. Winning every conference game you play is harder. Never dropping a set in conference-play throughout the entire season is almost unheard of.
That is what Maryville (15-2, 7-0 MEC) accomplished on Tuesday night with a sweep of St. Pius X to cap its regular season and secure that a second-straight MEC title.
“It is awesome,” Maryville senior Ilse Flores said. “It is amazing especially as a senior because it is like your last chance. We worked really hard to do that.”
While it is a second-straight title for the Spoofhounds, last year’s was a three-way tie. For senior Serena Sundell, this year’s is more satisfying considering how it was earned.
“It is a pretty special feeling, especially since we didn’t lose a set to anybody,” Sundell said. “I think we wanted to come out and really show this year that we can win it outright, rather than share it. We weren’t too comfortable with that so we definitely wanted to come out here and prove who is the best in the conference.”
Many of the Spoofhounds’ matches have been fairly drama-free this season because of just how dominant the team has been. Tuesday was not that way, however, as St. Pius X was determined to defend its home court and secure itself a share of the Spoofhounds’ title.
Maryville got going fast in the first set with a 17-7 lead, but the Warriors came back and got within three points on multiple occasions.
Maryville was able to seal the win 25-21 with an ace by senior Morgan Stoecklein providing the 25th point, but St. Pius X used the momentum it gather late in the first to jump start the second set.
The Warriors immediately jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second set. The lead was 9-5 when Sundell answered with five-straight points from the service line to put Maryville up 10-9.
“We knew we were capable,” Sundell said. “We just had to did in and take it point by point.”
The lead was short-lived though as St. Pius X scored the next four points. Maryville kept fighting back, but could never take the lead back until an ace by senior Kelsey Scott gave them a 23-22 lead.
Maryville’s biggest lead of the set came moments later at 24-22, but the Warriors would not go quietly.
St. Pius X tied the match at 24-24. Maryville took a one-point lead.
St. Pius X tied it at 25, then took a one-point lead.
Maryville tied it at 26, but St. Pius X took right back the lead.
“That was a really fun set,” Flores said. “It was just really close and it was the adrenaline that kept us going. I think we really came together really well as a team.”
A Sundell kill tied it again, but the Warriors answered. Sundell put another one down, but the Warriors answered. Sundell scored her third-straight point facing game point, and finally the Warriors had no response.
“I think we just have a really good connection,” Sundell said of setter Macy Loe. “We can find the holes in the block and I can find a way most of the time to find the floor. So that is what we do.”
Stoecklein and Scott combined for a block to put Maryville back in front and Sundell closed out the 31-29 set with an ace.
The third set was another competitive affair, but lacked the drama of the second.
The teams battled back and forth. With a 20-20 set, Sundell and Scott combined for a block to give the Hounds the lead for good.
Loe followed with an ace and the Hounds capped the regular season with a 25-21 win in the third set.
The Spoofhounds and their senior core celebrated the win as the program has improved each season they’ve been in high school. When they were in eighth grade, the team was 12-15. As freshmen, they improved to 19-9, before going 20-11 as sophomores.
Last year they captured their first district title since 2009 and went 27-8. With abbreviated schedule this year, they are 15-2 and have the highest team winning percentage since 2009.
Maryville’s road isn’t done yet though as they prepare for district next week in Cameron. The Hounds will have a bye as the top seed on Monday and play on Tuesday.
“We are all super, super excited and we’ve been waiting for this all season,” Flores said. “I think it is going to be great.”
Maryville 3, Chillicothe 0
Maryville got to the brink of the MEC title last Thursday with a 3-0 win in Chillicothe. The game scores were 25-22, 25-13 and 25-8.
Serena Sundell led Maryville in kills with 14 and digs with 15. Morgan Stoecklein had 13 kills while Klarysa Stolte had 12 digs.
Macy Loe finished with 26 assists. Kennedy Kurz, Rylee Vierhaler and Stoecklein each had three aces.