Category Archives: Volleyball
My 2020 began with a strange dream.
I was at the Louisiana High School Athletic Association volleyball state tournament, watching St. Joseph’s Academy, the team once coached by my dear friend, Brenda LeBlanc. Brenda was coaching the Redstickers in a tournament match against Northshore, a familiar foe for SJA in the state tournament through the years.
Michele Ashmore (now LeBoeuf) was playing for the Redstickers, along with her younger sister, Kimberly. I saw their parents, Mickey and Donna, in the stands, but I don’t remember conversing with any other parents. I was busy trying to take pictures with three devices (iPad, iPhone and my Digital SLR).
I laid down my iPad and took pictures with my camera for awhile. Then I moved to another location inside the Pontchartrain Center, where the LHSAA has held the volleyball state tournament since 1995, except 2005, when the damage to the New Orleans area from Hurricane Katrina forced a relocation to Lafayette.
When I moved to the new location, I laid the camera down in a seat in the back row and used my Apple devices to take pictures. When I returned to the seat, my camera and bag were gone.
I immediately accused someone of stealing it, but security did not believe me. I kept arguing, but the security guards said shut up or we’ll have to eject you. I gave up and watched the rest of the match, which the Redstickers won.
After the match, I caught up with the Ashmore girls. Michele was telling me about receiving offers to play in college. I then told Michele about Ottawa University and that one of the most important people in my life was playing there.
This is officially weird.
Of course, Caitlyn was the dear friend playing at Ottawa. I told Michele I cared deeply about Caitlyn and it would do my heart good for them to be teammates.
Here’s the deal: Michele graduated from SJA in May 2005. Caitlyn was just winding up kindergarten in Norton. Your intrepid blogger was still in the Big Easy at that time.
I didn’t own a camera, a tablet or a smartphone in 2005. Talk about time warps.
I wanted to show Michele and Kimberly pictures of Caitlyn on my devices, but I couldn’t pull them up. Then they said they had to go to meet their parents and teammates, because they had to play again that night.
After leaving the Ashmores, I noticed someone had my camera, because I immediately recognized the bright green wrap on the handle. The person who had it wanted to make me pay to get it back. I said BS.
Then I woke up, thinking it was close to 1000. It was 0715.
When Michele played at SJA, the Redstickers won the state championship of Louisiana’s highest division every year. SJA compiled a 165-9 record over those four seasons, including a 43-0 campaign in 2002 when it lost one set in the last season of side-out only scoring. Michele was the Louisiana Player of the Year in 2004 and signed with Auburn. She played only one year at Auburn before giving up volleyball because she wanted to come home to be with her high school sweetheart, whom she later married.
Michele now coaches volleyball at Central High in Baton Rouge. I’m guessing she still plays quite a bit, because Mickey and Donna were still playing regularly in recreation games while Michele and Kimberly were at SJA.
The first day of 2020 while awake didn’t provide me much drama. There won’t be 365 more days like this, but I can DREAM.
Number 3 on the court, number 1 (or 1A) in my heart
The reason I got up at 0318 this morning is someone I care about very much.
Caitlyn and Ottawa had a volleyball match in St. Louis (well, St. Louis County–more on that in a moment) against Missouri Baptist, the number one ranked team in NAIA volleyball. I guess that makes MBU the NAIA equivalent of Nebraska or Penn State.
Last year, the Spartans eliminated the Braves from the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City.
I saw this match last month on the schedule when I debated going to Hutchinson for the Braves’ season opener. I decided against Hutch, but then got the idea I might cross the Show-Me State for this one.
Why drive almost 800 kilometers (500 miles) for a volleyball match?
The reason: make sure Caitlyn had some support a long way from home. Besides, I hadn’t seen her in 11 months–my birthday last year when I went to Ottawa, then drove straight back to Russell at night because snow was forecast the next day. Snow forecast on October 14? This year, we’ll be lucky if it’s below 25 C (77 F) on that date at the rate we’re going.
I knew Peggy would not be able to make it to St. Louis because of her teaching and coaching duties. I didn’t figure Clark would make the drive, which is 190 km (118 mi) longer from Norton than Russell. Chelsea would have faced a drive about the same length as that from Norton, and she had coaching duties, too. Even Courtney and Andy, who are four hours from St. Louis, had too much going on. If it were a weekend, I’m certain many members of the Cox clan would have gone to St. Louis.
Thursday is my best day to travel. The work for the papers is done, and I can’t do much because most events are Thursday afternoon through Saturday.
I wanted to be there for Caitlyn. I wanted White Castle. And I wanted to shop at St. Louis’ two major grocery stores, Dierberg’s and Schnucks, which have many items I can’t find in Kansas City or Wichita, and certainly can’t find in Salina or Hays.
I had my alarm set for 0410 this morning. Yet I was up 52 minutes before that. By 0435, the Buick was out of the garage at 1224 North Brooks and pointed eastward.
When I got to Kansas City, Kansas, I experienced something I hadn’t in many moons.
Rush hour traffic.
There was an accident 8 km (5 mi) past the Kansas Speedway. Just after the I-435 exits, I-70 east became a parking lot. In the past, it really would have upset me, and I would have tried desperately to find an alternate route.
This time, however, I sat patiently in line, inching along, just going with the flow. No horn honking, no rage. I made sure to keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front of me. The Buick hasn’t been banged up. I want to keep it that way.
Leaving early gave me enough time to get my car washed in Independence. Thousands of bugs did suicide missions on my front bumper and windshield over the previous 11 days. For good measure, I washed the car again in Columbia after stopping for White Castle.
The hotel where I’m staying is in St. Louis County, which is distinct from the city of St. Louis. The two were once one in the same, but in the 1890s, the city was granted independence from the county by the Missouri legislature.
This makes Kansas City and St. Louis sharply different.
Kansas City extends its tentacles into four counties: Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass. The surrounding municipalities–Liberty, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs–tend to be large.
The city of St. Louis has maybe one-fourth the land area as Kansas City. St. Louis County features so many municipalities you won’t know where you are if you don’t pay attention to the road signs.
My hotel is in Chesterfield and passed through Lake St. Louis on I-64. MBU has a St. Louis address, but is closest to Creve Coeur. I also passed through Town and Country on my way to MBU. I’ve been through Maryland Heights, St. Ann and Clayton…am I missing any?
St. Charles County has a lot of municipalities, but they seem to be better defined. Wentzville, St. Peters, St. Charles, O’Fallon are the main ones.
MBU having the St. Louis address was just like my second apartment in Baton Rouge. It had a Baton Rouge address, but was in an unincorporated part of East Baton Rouge Parish. Glen Oaks High on the north side of town is the same way.
I tried to be inconspicuous when I entered the MBU gym. It worked for 20 minutes, but then at 1730, Caitlyn waved.
I told Crista yesterday I didn’t want to see her before the match because I didn’t want to break her concentration. I’m sure Caitlyn was stunned to see me. Crista was the only other person who knew of my plans, and I didn’t reveal those until yesterday’s session.
MBU won in straight sets. I waited for Caitlyn until after she and her teammates showered for the trip back to Ottawa. .
She was delighted to see me. I brought her a white rose and some White Castle for the team to enjoy on the ride west.
This is the third longest trip I have made to watch an athletic event since moving to Kansas. The two that were longer were the trip to Kentucky two years ago and the one to Baton Rouge last year.
Now I feel really good about going. I will sleep even better than I would have before–if these yahoos staying in the hotel for a weekend wedding can hold it down.
Tomorrow? Part of me wants to visit the Gateway Arch. Part of me wants to be lazy. With Saturday looking like a deluge in Kansas City, I’m probably going to bed very early and leaving very early, but probably not before 0600.
Twenty straight hours awake. Time to call it a night.
Late, late, late night games
I am running on less than fumes right now. I have only myself to blame.
I got up at 0350 Friday morning. I just could not sleep Thursday night and in the wee hours of Friday. I had two morning appointments in Overland Park, which of course can be a pain if you have to drive from near KCI like I did. Found out that I need to go back to Morse-McCarthy Monday afternoon to get the brakes replaced. That’s what happens to a nine-year old car with 391,000 kilometers (243,000 miles). But it has not stranded me in the middle of nowhere, so as long as it gets me from Point X to Point Y, I’m good.
I got to play trivia for an hour with Larry at Buffalo Wild Wings, my first visit there in two months. I didn’t linger any longer than I had to so I could get out to Columbia and watch LSU play Missouri in volleyball.
The beginning and end of the time in the middle of Missouri were fine for the most part. The time inside Mizzou Arena left me wondering if I can ever go back to LSU.
I e-mailed the volleyball team’s media relations contact, Chelsey Chamberlain, that I was coming. I sent it out Monday. Not one word back. No contact elsewhere either.
Inside the arena, Ms. Chamberlain did her best to avoid eye contact.
Am I that repulsive? Maybe I am.
LSU stayed competitive with Mizzou through the first two sets. In the second sert, LSU led 24-23 and could have tied the match, but blew set point. Mizzou won the next two points to win the set, then dominated the third. Final: 25-22, 26-24, 25-12.
The beginning and end was pretty good because I found some things I can’t in Kansas City, and certainly nowhere in Kansas.
Before the match, I hit the jackpot at Schnucks, the leading grocery chain in St. Louis which has expanded west, but only as far west as Columbia.
Schnucks had the peppers I love so much on hot dogs, peppers which are not carried by Hy-Vee or Hen House in Kansas City, not by Whole Foods, and certainly not by Target and Shit Mart, er, Walmart. I bought six jars, and they happened to be on sale for $2.50 each. I’m set.
After the match, I picked up White Castle. Again, Columbia is as close as I can get to White Castle. The company has introduced a slider made with plant-based materials, and I must say it is delicious.
Now I want to drive back to Columbia for Schnucks and White Castle. Believe me I’ll be hoarding if I’m there for LSU’s baseball series vs. Mizzou in mid-April.
I had to drive back to Kansas City because hotels in Columbia were almost all booked, and those that weren’t had exorbitant rates, because Mizzou hosts Kentucky in football. In fact, the game kicks off in less than an hour.
Exorbitant doesn’t begin to describe the price of going to see LSU-Alabama a week from tonight. I don’t want any part of it. I think next Saturday I’ll be in bed before 1900, even though we go back to standard time (FINALLY) and have an extra hour. I might be up at 0200 the next morning.
When I returned to the hotel at 0015, Game 3 of the World Series was still going strong. I turned it on in the 13th when Boston took a 2-1 lead. Sure enough, Los Angeles tied it in the bottom of the 13th.
I stayed awake long enough for the 14th, then zoned out. When I woke up at 0730, I discovered the Dodgers won in EIGHTEEN innings on a solo home run by Max Muncy.
The game took SEVEN HOURS and 20 minutes. It ended at 0030 Pacific, which was 0330 in Boston. By far the longest postseason game in history in terms of game time, and easily the longest in World Series history. There was an 18-inning National League Division Series game in 2005 between the Astros and Braves.
As far as marathon postseason games go, the National Hockey League is the only league which comes close. No NBA playoff game has lasted more than four overtimes, and the longest NFL postseason game, Miami at Kansas City on Christmas 1971 in the last game at Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium, went one and a half overtime periods. Association football matches have never lasted more than 120 minutes of playing time before (a) going to a shootout or (b) being replayed entirely.
I am feeling run down. That happens when you’re up for 21 straight hours then sleep only six.
Top seeds steamroll into semis
Thomas More Prep and Lakin easily won their quarterfinal matches of the volleyball sub-state at Lakin.
The Monarchs improved to 36-2 by spiking Southwestern Heights 25-10, 25-7; and the host Broncs (32-7) rolled over Hi-Plains League rival Syracuse 25-8, 25-10.
Next up is #4 Hugoton (16-20) vs. #5 Cimarron (15-19) on the West court, and #3 Norton (22-13) vs. #6 Hoisington (8-25) on the East court.
TMP gets the Hugoton-Cimarron winner in the semis, and Lakin plays the Norton-Hoisington winner.
Norton has won just one sub-state match since making it to the 2007 state tournament. That was two years ago at Scott City, when the Bluejays won in the first round over Southwestern Heights before losing to Lakin in the semis.
This is the first match Norton is the higher seeded team in sub-state since 2005, when Chelsea Cox was a senior. How time flies.