WELLSVILLE — The West Franklin High School volleyball team is playing with a chip on its shoulder. The squad started the season slow and out of sorts.
The return of Stephany Lord gave the Falcons a big shot in the arm along the net and allowed the other players to return to their roles.
All of a sudden the Falcons caught fire. The players want all to know this is the same team that won 31 matches last year.
West Franklin was not about to let another tournament championship get away. Last week, the Falcons lost in the title match of its own tournament.
On Saturday, the Falcons had another opportunity to win a tournament title — and did not let this one get away.
West Franklin turned the tables on Santa Fe Trail in the Wellsville Invitational championship match, winning 25-16, 25-21. Earlier in pool play, West Franklin lost to the Chargers, 25-18, 25-23.
This was a milestone victory as West Franklin claimed the Wellsville title, something that has eluded the Falcons during the 12-year coaching career of Angie Corwine.
“We played our best in the championship match,” Corwine said. “We showed our mental toughness. We were ready to play. They were ready for the challenge.”
West Franklin was on fire against the Chargers. The Falcons served 94 percent with six aces. The hitters had one error with 24 kills. The blockers had five stuff blocks and the serve-receive average was 2.21.
“Our blocking took us over the top,” Corwine said.
The Falcons closed the match with four straight points, snapping a 21-21 tie. Bailey Whittington, who now plays libero full-time, served out the match.
She had one ace in the run and finished with 10 aces in the tournament and bolstered the back row with 41 digs.
“Bailey had a great day,” Corwine said.
Another standout in the tourney was McKenzie Steele. Corwine said the junior hit .333 for the tournament and mixed up her hitting.
West Franklin (16-8) plays today at Herington.
Eagles take fourth
The Eagles started the tourney fast and faded in bracket play to finish fourth. Wellsville won its pool with a 2-1 mark after tying with Anderson County and Eudora.
“We were lucky enough to win the tiebreakers and come out first,” Wellsville coach Eric Evans said. “I thought we fought hard the whole day but ran out of gas at the end.”
Wellsville lost in three sets to West Franklin in the semifinals and was upended by Eudora in the consolation match. Wellsville opened the tournament with a three-set win over the Cardinals.
Wellsville plays a triangular today at home.
WF def. Baldwin 25-21, 12-25, 25-19
WF def. Osage City 25-12, 25-13
SFT def. WF 25-18, 25-23
WF def. Wellsville 25-20, 25-23, 25-14
WF def. SFT 25-16, 25-21
Aubry Flory: 9 kills, 8 block assists, 1 solo block.
Sierra Miller: 3 aces, 13 kills, 7 block assists.
Shelbi Allen: 97 percent serving, 51 assists.
Katie Aitchison: 6 kills, 5 block assists.
Bailey Whittington: 10 aces, 2.2 serve-receive, 51 digs.
Emily Reed: 33 kills, 57 assists, 47 digs.
McKenzie Steele: 7 aces, 31 kills, .333 hitting percentage, 2.5 serve-receive.
Stephany Lord; 9 aces, 43 kills, 28 digs.
Wellsville def. Eudora 22-25, 26-24, 25-21
Anderson County def Wellsville 16-25, 25-22, 25-17
Wellsville def. ACCHS 25-16, 25-23
West Franklin def Wellsville 20-25, 25-23, 25-14
Eudora def. Wellsville 25-19, 26-24
Darcy Bonzo: 115 assists, 100 percent serving.
Emily Strawn: 25 kills, 100 percent serving.
Erica McTaggart: 33 kills.
Ashley Ebeck: 55 digs.
Ashley Sparks: 2.431 serve-receive, 53 kills.