By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
After a slow start in the first set, the Benton Cardinals went on a run to take the second set, and went on to dominate the rest of the way in a 3-1 win over Bishop LeBlond at Springer Gymnasium Thursday.
Benton (8-10) fell in the first set 25-19, but went on a 10-1 run in the second to win that one, 25-17. Sets three and four belonged to the Cardinals, as they dominated those 25-10 and 25-12 respectively.
After Benton got behind 16-15 in set two, first-year head coach Lauryn Doolan called timeout, and asked her team to be more aggressive.
"I told the girls (in timeout) that we have to go after every single thing," Doolan said. "We can't give up anything, and then it starts with us being aggressive with everything that we send over to LeBlond. Hits, serves and free balls. Everything that we give another team, we have to make them work and make it hard on them."
The third set started out neck-and-neck, but Benton jumped out to a 12-8 lead, and LeBlond's offensive mistakes started piling up. Senior hitter Alyia Stillman also started heating up, knocking down six kills in the second set alone.
Stillman finished with a match-high 20 kills and six aces.
"She did everything well tonight to be completely honest," Doolan said of Stillman. "Even if she has those games where she's not passing as well, she finds somewhere on the court to help out our team and she's a great leader, great athlete and all around just a great person."
While Stillman was at times dominant, Benton did a great job spreading the wealth offensively Thursday.
Sophomore Avery Morlock had seven kills, while freshman Andrea Simmons, sophomore Hollie Peters and senior Gabby Moulden each had six.
"Every single girl who walks out onto the court for me can play," Doolan said. "We're big, we're strong and I have some great, great girls."
Benton, winners of three straight after sweeps over Excelsior Springs Monday and Lathrop Tuesday, will face another intracity rival when they go to Lafayette Monday.
After a 4-5 start to the season, Doolan can start to see things coming into form for her team as districts come up in less than a month.
"That's okay to have those mistakes that we have to correct in the beginning of the season," she pointed out, "because, now we're starting to fix those things toward the end and this is where I want to catch that momentum, that stride and I want to be ready to go into districts and win."
LeBlond was led Thursday by senior Kianna Herrera, who had 12 kills for the Eagles (12-3). Junior Sadie Ward had six kills and two aces.
LeBlond goes home Tuesday for the LeBlond varsity tournament. They'll face West Platte Tuesday at 5 p.m. and Lafayette Thursday at 7 p.m.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.