Lady Chiefs win seventh straight district title
CENTERVIEW -- There's a reason the Santa Fe volleyball team can lose five of its top seven players from a state-champion club, replace them with underclassmen, and still make it to the playoffs for the seventh year in a row.
"We come from a good community where the girls are really excited about volleyball," noted head coach Kinsey Harms following the Lady Chiefs' 25-20, 25-13 victory over Sacred Heart in the Class 1, District 14 Tournament finals Wednesday at Centerview. "We have a lot of talent and really good leadership."
Earlier in the day, Santa Fe downed host Crest Ridge in equally-convincing fashion, 25-12, 25-16, behind junior Sadie Limback's 16 kills. Sophomore Josey Burton and freshman Carrigan Smith took turns in the limelight to also be named to the all-tournament team.
Limback knocked down three shots and Smith served a pair of aces as the Lady Chiefs jumped out to a 7-0 start in the first game against the Lady Cougars (10-18-2). After getting an early 12-3 lead in the second set, Santa Fe saw the margin close to within five points before closing with a 6-3 surge.
The Lady Chiefs began the finals against Sacred Heart strongly, 7-1, and didn't allow their opponent to score more than two points in a row until late in the game. Limback had eight kills during the opening 21-12 stretch.
"When somebody puts the ball on the floor 40 percent of the time she gets set, you really have to go with what earns you the points fastest," Harms explained Limback's prominence. "She does a really good job."
A spike by sophomore Zoe Volcko, senior Anna Callis' ace and a Callis block allowed the Lady Gremlins to tally four points in a row to narrow the gap to 22-18.
"They're young and we're still trying to get rid of those bad habits," Harms said about bouts of inconsistent passing. "That's something that's going to be an on-going process, even when they're seniors."
Smith smashed and the teams traded points before Limback's tip found the floor to end the frame.
The second set began much tighter, with Sacred Heart getting a 4-3 edge with help of a Callis dink. It didn't stay that way long, the Lady Chiefs going on a 10-2 tear as Burton put down five shots.
"She's learning to be a threat," Harms asserted. "The other girls know their roles, too."
With freshman Maddi Schuette anchoring the defense and sophomore Katarina and Limback combining for 16 assists, Santa Fe remained in command. The Lady Gremlins (22-9-3) pulled to within three points at 15-12, but managed only one more point in the next 11 volleys -- Limback slamming three straight attacks, Schuette coming up with a block and Smith finishing the match with a tip.
Limback finished with 13 kills and Burton had seven for the Lady Chiefs (25-3-4), who head to Kansas City for the Section 2 meet Saturday -- starting with the strong host club, Northland Christian, in the semifinal round -- in their quest for a sixth consecutive trip to the MSHSAA Class 1 Championships at Cape Girardeau.
"Northland Christian was phenomenal last year," Harms recalled the previous sectional match, won by Santa Fe, 25-13, 25-18. "We didn't want to look ahead too far ... but we've been working on a while on what we think they're going to throw at us.
"You never know what's going to happen in volleyball," she observed. "Our girls are so scrappy, even with their power hitters, we may be able to hold our ground against them."
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