Down one game already and trailing 9-13 in set two to the Marshall Lady Owls, senior night was all but ruined for Smith-Cotton volleyball Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Head coach Chad Harter relieved pressure with a timeout, and the Lady Tigers stormed back in a big way.
Tori Jacobi, one of two S-C seniors, scowled as she leaped for an attack and put the Lady Tigers up 19-18. Elix Simon, the second Smith-Cotton senior, earned a 21-20 lead with an ace. Taylor Burlingame sealed the second set with an ace.
Smith-Cotton kept rolling in set three, opening with an 11-0 run. By the time Jacobi prepared her 12th serve, Jenna Rapp and Kailee Mitchell had celebrated with handshakes and a dab. Twice.
Rapp led the Lady Tigers with 11 kills, despite not scoring in the first set, during a 12-25, 25-22, 25-18 victory over Marshall.
Tears streamed for the Lady Tiger seniors after digesting the win.
“It was really upsetting,” Jacobi said. “As soon as the whistle blew, I thought ‘That’s the last time I’m going to play there, ever.’
“It’s just crazy how fast time flew by since freshman year.”
Jacobi had 13 assists, two kills and three aces Tuesday.
Simon had four digs, two kills and an ace. She said her senior season was a rollercoaster.
“At first, you didn’t know what to think because we lost a lot of seniors last year,” Simon said. “There was a lot of worry that we weren’t going to amount to what they did last year. But as the year progressed, we’ve really grown as a team.”
Smith-Cotton (10-13-1) won its first district tournament since 1979 last season. The Lady Tigers face Grain Valley 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17 in the Class 4 District 9 tournament in Columbia under first-year head coach Harter.
He said the senior duo helped his transition from junior varsity to varsity in 2016.
“(Simon and Jacobi) have led this young group of kids and mentored them,” Harter said. “What we have in the future is owed to these two. They have really stepped up to make sure that there’s something to pass on with the Smith-Cotton tradition.”
In the first set, Harter called timeout down 9-12 and 11-18. Marshall clinched the first set on a 7-1 run with a team block on Jorey Luebbert.
Luebbert finished with six kills and four blocks, while Burlingame had 12 digs.
Smith-Cotton, which snapped a 2-match losing streak Tuesday, faces Center in Kansas City at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2