One game from crown in Chillicothe (Mo.) Invitational, Lady Hornets fell to Excelsior Springs Saturday

Chillicothe High School’s volleyball Lady Hornets had the crown of their own annual tournament on their fingertips Saturday, only to have it slip away at the end of the day when a 26-26, 25-27, 21-25 title-match loss to Excelsior Springs concluded a litany of cliffhanger finishes for the CHS spikers.
Having nipped Excelsior Springs by a single point twice during pool play to reach the championship bracket as its pool’s top seed, Chillicothe twice went into overtime in the semifinals before slipping past Lawson 30-28, 30-28.
That advanced the Lady Hornets to the first-place match, where it faced a rematch with Excelsior Springs after ESHS’ Lady Tigers outlasted St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond, the other pool’s No. 1 team, in a seesaw 3-games match 25-20, 15-25, 25-13.
In the afternoon championship match, play between the hosts and Excel-sior Springs was just as close as it had been during their morning meeting.
For a third-straight game, the teams finished 49 rallies with Chillicothe clinging to a 1-point lead, 25-24. This time, however, the action was being played under normal scoring rules, requiring the winner to have a 2-points margin.
So a 50th point was played this time and Chillicothe claimed it, giving it a 1-game lead in the best-of-3-games match.
In game two, with the Lady Hornets able to claim their own tournament’s title with a victory, again 49 points were not enough to decide the outcome, nor were 50 or 51. However, with Excelsior Springs up 26-25, it  won the next points for the required 2-points lead, 27-25, squaring the championship duel at one win each.
In the winner-take-all showdown, play yet again was on close terms, rally after rally. However, as Excelsior Springs inched ahead this time, it became the team with the first opportunity to close out the set, the match, and the tournament. When the Lady Tigers captured point No. 46, despite having lost three of five games against Chillicothe overall on the day (although outscoring CHS 124-122), they gained the title 25-21.
Bishop LeBlond, which had defeated Chillicothe 25-7, 21-25, 25-17 at St. Joseph last Thursday, claimed third place with a straight-games conquest of Lawson.
Statistically for CHS in the tournament, Katelyn Parkey had a team-high 56 “kills,” while Whitney Clampitt led in blocks with 35. Elli Ross earned 48 assists and Carly Gardner 47, while Maggie Leatherman topped the Lady Hornets with 26 “digs” and 41 winning points served.
With three match wins, one split, and one loss Saturday, the volleyball Lady Hornets head into the new week with a 7-3-1 match record.
They will be right back on the court tonight, visiting St. Joseph: Benton for a Midland Empire Conference match.