The Crusaders finished fourth behind champion St. Joseph’s Academy, Ozark, and St. Teresa’s Academy from Kansas City.
Still, it was a worthwhile trip for the St. Dominic club which finished the season at 24-14-3.
“We’re a small school in the largest class there is so we definitely got there and there is a size difference and we were a bit outmatched,” St. Dominic coach Courtney Bland said. “But we have a lot of youth on our team and we worked so hard to get there and we were just enjoying the experience.”
Things started off decently Friday afternoon for the Crusaders as they opened round-robin play in the semifinals with a split of two sets against St. Theresa. St. Theresa won the first set 25-17 and the Crusaders rebounded in the second set to win 26-24. Senior middle hitter Lexi Burkemper and junior setter Allie Otten came up big in the match with 8 kills each. Otten was strong running the offense with 17 assists.
“The first match against St. Theresa went good,” Bland said. “Obviously it was a ton of nerves with all of my team’s first time being there, so were were dealing with a lot of getting settled into that big of a tournament. That weighed heavy in the first and and in the second game, we played really hard were able to slow their offense down.”
Next came semifinal matches that evening against St. Joseph’s and Ozark.
Against eventual champ St. Joe’s, St. Dominic was within striking distance in each set but fell to the Angels, 25-20 and 25-15.
Ozark was the final match of the day for the Crusaders and Ozark defeated them 25-16, and 25-14.
Those opening night results pushed the Crusaders into the third place match on Saturday afternoon against St. Theresa’s for a second time in the tournament.
Much like the first match, St. Dominic overcame a 25-17 first-set loss with a 25-23 win in the second set. That forced a third and deciding set for the match. The Crusaders battled hard in the final set but St. Theresa’s prevailed 25-17 to take the third place trophy.
Bland felt that the tournament played out the way it was meant to be as the Crusaders made their first appearance in the Class 4 tournament.
“I think we go down there and it’s our first time there, it’s Ozark’s 10th time there and St. Joe’s 2o something time there and I think it’s huge that in Class 4 a school as small as ours got to state,” Bland said.
Bland said that she will miss the chemistry and the camraderie of this group of players and how they were a no drama group that worked hard and achieved the goal they had set for themselves.
“They were great team and a great bunch of people and I will miss this team’s camraderie and how well they worked together,” Bland said.
Senior standouts Burkemper and Kelly Sitz will move on to college next year but the Crusaders figure to have even more on court success in 2018 as Otten returns at setter along with defensive specialist Lindsey Woltering, and outside hitter Amanda Tippett.
“I definitely look for this team to do great things again next year and possibly do a little bit better next year because experience can take you a long way,” Bland said. “I think we’re set up to do good things next year.”