Pete Logan
After dropping their first match of a home triangular to a powerful Olathe West squad Thursday night, the Gardner-Edgerton High School volleyball team rebounded by dominating Shawnee Mission West in two games to earn a 1-1 split on the night.
The Owls of Olathe West, led by junior outside hitter Ava Testrake, powered their way to a 2-0 win over the Trailblazers in the first match of the evening, winning their games 25-12, 25-9. Shawnee Mission West then fell to the Owls 25-17, 25-17, before facing off against the Blazers in the evening’s final contest. The rest between matches seemed to energize the Blazers as they controlled momentum throughout a pair of wins over the Vikings — 25-16 and 25-8.
“We were definitely playing frantic,” said GEHS head coach Hannah Berry after the night’s contests were over. “We needed our leaders to step up and set stuff up in that game, and they didn’t do a great job of that. So we came back together; we talked about it. We talked about being disciplined and doing well what we do well. We talked about not playing frantic and trying to force things that aren’t there. Just kind of got them together to come back together as a team and back together with a rotation they feel comfortable with, and the girls really showed out well the second game.”
In Game One against the Vikings, the Blazers jumped out to a 4-1 lead that was highlighted by a kill from GEHS senior Jaylyne Bell. After West closed it to 4-2, Bell sparked a 3-0 Gardner-Edgerton run with a kill and a service ace, while junior Raven Boone capped the run with a kill of her own to make the score 7-2. Still, Shawnee Mission West held tight and soon closed the gap to 1 at 10-9, causing the Trailblazers to call a timeout. After the pause, the Blazers came out on a 5-1 run, highlighted by a pair of aces from senior libero Ava Bojanski. After West pulled to within 4 at 18-14, Gardner-Edgerton put together another 5-1 run to push their lead to 8 at 23-15. A service ace from junior Kailana Chamnongchith punctuated that run. Finally, with GEHS junior Jadyn Padilla serving, Bell slammed her final kill of the game, giving the Trailblazers a 25-16 triumph.
The Blazers dominated Game Two from the outset, storming off to an 11-0 lead. The run featured 3 kills each from Bell and Boone and two aces from Padilla. With a 15-5 lead, another 5-1 burst from the Blazers pushed the lead to 20-6 and featured kills from Bell, Boone, and sophomore Elise Hmielewski and another ace from Bojanski. A Bishop kill at 24-8 sealed the win for the Blazers, giving them a 25-8 Game Two win and a 2-0 match victory over the Vikings.
After the game, Bell spoke about her team’s ability to bounce back and the energy that the home crowd helped provide for the team.
“We talked about how we all need to play as a team,” Bell said of the players’ discussions with each other after the loss to Olathe West, “and then we all agreed that we all need to stay united, and then we went and got hyped.,”
“It was pretty exciting to have them (the student cheering section) back. It was a little nerve-wracking at first because we hadn’t had a student section in over a year. They’re great. Their energy definitely came to the court and helped us.”
Against West, Bell collected 9 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace, while Boone racked up 6 kills, 1 block and 1 ace. Bojanski and Padilla each recorded 3 aces, while Chamnongchith added 2 of her own.
With the win, the Trailblazers improved to 3-2 on the season.