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Sports in Kansas: Volleyball Notes 6A, 5A, 4A -10/22/19

Lansing Volleyball is having a solid year as expected under legendary coach Julie Slater.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Oct 22, 2019

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By CONOR NICHOLL

KSHSAA released Class 4-6A sub-states for volleyball Monday morning. The smaller classes will be released Wednesday, and Sports in Kansas will have a preview of those classes later the week. All records below are as of sub-state seeding, unless otherwise noted.

Class 6A

Blue Valley, Blue Valley North lead on East side

On the east side, Blue Valley earned the overall No. 1 seed with a 26-8 record. BV is part of a sub-state where no team is better than 18-15. Blue Valley is ranked first in 6A. Blue Valley’s top-three hitters are all seniors with Evelyn Diederich, Lindsay Lahr, and Addy McAleer. Diederich has committed to South Dakota. She leads the team with 316 kills, 48 aces and 180 digs. Lahr, a Missouri State commit, and Diederich are first and second in blocks. The top-six diggers have between 105 and 180 digs.

No. 2 Blue Valley North (23-8) leads sub-state No. 2. Blue Valley West is the seventh seed at 20-13. North is ranked third, and BVW moved into the rankings this week at No. 10. Blue Valley North defeated Blue Valley West, 2-0, on Sept. 26. BVN has won three straight in the series. BVN has great depth with its top-four hitters with 129 and 142 kills. Sophomore Jasmine Dulan paces the squad. Senior Grace Reininga leads the team with 46 aces.

G-E has possible rematch with Olathe West

In sub-state No. 3, Gardner-Edgerton (24-9) and much improved No. 6 Olathe West (21-12) are the headliners. G-E is ranked sixth, while OW has been ranked earlier this year. G-E defeated Olathe West, 3-1, on Sept. 26.

Senior Morgan McIntire, a Fort Hays commit, leads the team with 356 kills (4.7 per set). The next four hitters are all non-seniors, including junior Kendra Wait, a Creighton volleyball commit and the reigning Kansas Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year. Wait carries an excellent .397 hitting percentage with 95 kills, paces with 37 aces and is second with 90 blocks. G-E is also a very strong serving team with a plus-53 between aces and service errors.

Amy Hoffsommer has done an excellent job turning around the brand-new OW program. The Owls went 3-32 and 10-35 in its first two seasons. Ava Testrake is one of the state’s best freshman. She leads the team with 255 kills, along with a .291 hitting percentage and 50 aces.

SMNW, Mill Valley could have rematch

In sub-state No. 4, Shawnee Mission Northwest (26-10) and Mill Valley (24-12) are expected to play in the sub-state title game. Northwest is ranked eighth, and Mill Valley dropped five spots back from second to seventh. Mill Valley defeated SMNW, 2-1, on Sept. 4. SMNW junior Reanne DeBose has enjoyed an impressive season with 365 kills (4.1 per set). Freshmen Tori Creason and junior Audrey Bennett both lead the offense.

Garden City sets individual milestones, enjoys big season

On the west, Garden City (30-3) carries the best overall record in the classification. GC is the only team with a winning record in sub-state No. 1. GC bumped up a spot from fifth to fourth in the rankings.

Senior Reagan Karlin, a Creighton commit, is one of the state’s best players with 341 kills (4.9 per set) and a .517 hitting percentage. Karlin cleared 1,000 career kills. She leads the team with 44 aces. Senior Remi Vargas has more than 2,000 career assists, and senior Kelbi Richter leads with 357 digs (5.2 per set). Richter is over 1,000 career digs.

W. Rural heavily favored with standout freshmen

Washburn Rural (34-5) is heavily favored in the second sub-state. Junction City (19-16) is the only team with a winning record. Rural is ranked second in 6A. Washburn Rural has five freshmen with significant playing time on varsity.

Derby looks to qualify for state; Mills clears 1,000/1,000 career mark

Much improved Derby (29-8) is the favorite from sub-state No. 3. The Panthers have been ranked this fall, but fell out of the last poll. The Panthers have enjoyed a big turnaround from 18-21 last year.

Three players – junior Sophie Connor, senior Jalen Keener, and sophomore Tatum Boettjer - have between 223 and 245 kills. Senior Sydney Nilles, a Newman basketball commit, leads with 812 assists (9.7 per set). Connor leads with 387 digs, and senior Heather Mills has put together another strong season with 318 digs. Both average at least 3.8 digs per set.

Mills recently cleared 1,000 career digs and serve receptions. Overall, she has 1,038 digs and 1,156 serve receptions in her career.

Lawrence teams paired in same sub-state

No. 4 sub-state features an interesting grouping with No. 4 Wichita East (28-10), No. 13 Lawrence (9-25) and No. 5 Lawrence Free State (22-11). Lawrence is the defending Class 6A state champions. Free State is ninth in the rankings.

FS had lost three in a row to Lawrence, but swept its city rival, 3-0, on Oct. 8. Free State has been over .500 for the last five years, including 23-15 last fall. Senior Kaitlyn Hamilton has 162 kills with a .288 hitting percentage in the team’s latest release.

In 2018, Lawrence defeated Blue Valley in the championship, while Olathe Northwest beat Washburn Rural for third place.

Class 5A

Maize South paced by Fava, Jones in challenging sub-state

Class 5A has enjoyed a banner year, and that includes three very quality teams in west sub-state No. 1 with top-seeded Maize South (34-2), No. 8 Wichita Northwest (24-14) and ninth-seeded Hays High (20-12). Maize South is fifth in the 5A rankings and was the last team in Kansas to suffer a loss. Maize South has two of the state’s best players in senior Erica Fava and junior setter Laurel Jones. Fava has 346 kills with a .327 hitting percentage, along with 71 kills.

Jones carries 120 kills with a .349 hitting percentage and 818 assists. She is a Marquette commit. Maize South has won two in a row versus Northwest. Hays High features Tasiah Nunnery, who is a former WAC Player of the Year and has more than 1,000 career kills.

Rivals Carroll/Kapaun could match up again; GB/Goddard possible rematch

Sub-state No. 2 could feature City League rivals Bishop Carroll (31-6) and Kapaun Mt. Carmel (24-10) in a 2-7 matchup. Carroll bumped up a spot from ninth to eighth in the latest rankings. Carroll has won five straight versus KMC, including two this year.

Sub-state No. 3 has No. 3 Andover (30-6), No. 6 McPherson (26-10), and No. 11 Goddard-Eisenhower at 20-16. Andover was not ranked but bumped into the poll this week at ninth. Andover has not played either McPherson or Eisenhower this year.

Sub-state No. 4 has a regular season rematch with No. 4 Great Bend (27-6) and No. 5 Goddard (31-7). Goddard has won three in a row versus GB, including a three-set win on Sept. 26. GB’s top-five attackers have between 131 and 199 kills. Junior Sydney Unruh has 403 digs (5.3 per set) and has more than 1,000 successful return of serves.

Spring Hill up in rankings with Stevenson

The east side is also loaded with plenty of the state favorites. Spring Hill (34-2) leads sub-state No. 1, along with No. 8 Pittsburg (23-11) and No. 9 Bonner Springs (22-14). Spring Hill is ranked second in 5A. Coach Erica Book has led SH to a 77-13 advantage in sets won. Spring Hills’s only losses have come to Blue Valley Southwest and St. James. SH has defeated Bonner Springs twice this year and has not faced Pittsburg since ’14.

Junior Jalyn Stevenson, a Washburn commit, has 362 kills and a .346 hitting percentage to lead the team. All but 14 kills have come from non-seniors. Junior Alli Frank has 80 blocks. SH is one of the state’s most efficient teams with a .294 hitting percentage.

St. James remains No. 1; Wortmann wins award

Two-time defending state champion St. James (33-2) is the top seed in sub-state No. 2, and could get No. 7 Topeka Seaman (27-9) in the sub-state title game. SJA stands first in the 5A poll.

Last year, St. James defeated St. Thomas Aquinas, 26-24, 20-25, 34-32 in the state final. Lansing held off Bishop Carroll for third. SJA has been ranked in the top-25 nationally for most of the year.

Marea Wortmann, a Benedictine commit, earned MaxPreps state player of the week honors for the week of Oct. 14-20. She delivered 11.1 assists over 20 sets, along with 48 digs and 13 aces. Senior Anna Feldkamp has enjoyed a big season on a depth-laden squad with 286 kills and a .365 hitting percentage. Senior Ellie Bolton paces with 441 digs (5.9 per set). Feldkamp has committed to Loyola of Chicago, and Bolton to Creighton.

Lansing enjoys big year; undefeated since Crawford returns

No. 3 Lansing (28-4) has enjoyed a big season behind legendary coach Julie Slater. Three of the four teams in sub-state 3 have a winning record, including No. 6 Shawnee Heights (26-8). Lansing is fourth and Shawnee Heights is sixth in the poll. The Lions lost twice to Aquinas and once to Washburn Rural. Lansing has won 23 in a row. On Oct. 15, Lansing defeated Shawnee Heights, 3-1, to win the United Kansas Conference. Lansing went undefeated through the UKC. Lansing freshman, JV and varsity all won league titles for the second straight year.

Middle hitter Caroline Crawford, a Kansas commit, missed part of the season early on because she played on the U.S. national team in Egypt. Since her return, the Lions have not lost. Of Lansing’s 28 victories, 17 have come versus ranked teams. Lansing is loaded with talent. Outside hitter Karli Schmidt is the reigning 5A Player of the Year and has also committed to Kansas.

Outside hitter Samantha Moburg has committed to Washburn. Middle blocker Amelia Van Der Werff has committed to Middle Tennessee State, and setter/right side McKinzie Weaver has committed to Newman. Coach Julie Slater is No. 2 all-time in wins in Kansas history and has more than 900 victories.

Aquinas ranked nationally; Carolines with big performances

In Sub-State No. 4, Basehor-Linwood (30-5) is the top seed, though St. Thomas Aquinas (27-6) is the likely favorite as the No. 5 seed. Aquinas is ranked third in 5A and is ranked No. 24 nationally in the latest USA Today rankings. B-L is again tenth in 4A.

Aquinas junior Caroline Bien and senior Caroline Zabroske have tallied 268 and 244 kills, respectively. Both each carry at least a .326 average. Bien has committed to Kansas. Zabroske is a four-year varsity player and is the Saints’ all-time leader in kills. Senior Annie Rokusek will play for Central Missouri.

Class 4A

Indy leads 4A in winning percentage

Independence has the top overall record on the east side and paces sub-state No. 1 with a 31-3 mark. No other team in the sub-state has a winning record. Indy moved from sixth to fifth in the 4A rankings.

Louisburg and Miege in rematch of last year’s finale

Sub-state No. 2 leads with Atchison (26-12), though No. 10 Bishop Miege (14-20) is the favorite and gets a great first round matchup with No. 7 Louisburg (18-15). Miege, which plays a highly challenging schedule, is third in 4A. Miege is the defending state champion and won the title last year with a 26-16 record. Miege defeated Louisburg in the championship, while Hayden beat Andale for third place.

Louisburg is ranked fourth in the poll and has five attackers with between 130 and 187 kills. The Wildcats’ top hitter is junior Carleigh Pritchard. Sophomore Corinna McMullen paces with 66 aces and has one of the state’s top ace percentages at 16.5. She is tied for 13th in aces, according to MaxPreps statistical lists.

Miege is 7-1 against Louisburg since 2013, including three straight victories. The Stags defeated Louisburg, 2-0, on Oct. 5. Miege opened the season 0-5, though lost to Washburn Rural, Gardner-Edgerton, Blue Valley, and Blue Valley North, all ranked in the top-six in 6A. In its last match, Miege defeated Olathe West, 2-0.

Miege carries a .123 hitting average, and junior Ella Martin paces the squad with 172 kills. Junior Payton Verhulst, who led the Stags with 297 kills as a sophomore, is one of the best basketball players in the country and holds dozens of Division I offers. She is not on the volleyball team this fall after a first team all-state season in ’18.

Hayden/Eudora in same sub-state; Shockley headed to Pitt State

Eudora paces sub-state No. 3 with a 23-13 mark, and Topeka Hayden (23-14) is the state favorite out of sub-state No. 4. Hayden is second in 4A, and Eudora was not ranked in the poll before it moved to tenth in the latest rankings.

Eudora has captured exactly 23 victories the last three seasons. Eudora is 0-3 against Hayden in the last four seasons, including a 2-0 loss this fall. Eudora senior Keagan Shockley has enjoyed a big season with more than a third of her team’s kills.

She has 213 kills (3.8 per set) with a .357 hitting percentage. Shockley has committed to Pittsburg State. In the last two years, she has 452 kills (3.1 per set) and carries a .353 average.

No. 1 Andale experienced, one of the top contenders

On the west side, Andale (31-2) has been ranked No. 1 nearly all season and paces sub-state No. 1. Andale went to state last year. Coach Kaylie Bergkamp is the daughter of highly successful Garden Plain coach Gina Clark. Andale finished 34-9 last year and returned five starters with junior outside Katelyn Fairchild, senior middle Morgan Bruna, senior libero/defensive specialists Madison Grimes and Sage Reichenberger and senior setter Jenna Jarmer.

Circle sees improvement

Towanda-Circle leads sub-state No. 2 with a 29-6 record. Circle remains seventh in the 4A rankings. This marks the third straight year of wins improvement for the Thunderbirds. Circle is 21-16 and 26-13 the last two years.

Balance in sub-states 3 and 4

No. 3 Holton (26-11) is the top team in sub-state No. 3, that also features traditional powers Abilene (24-13) and Rose Hill (12-22). Holton improved from tenth to ninth in the latest 4A rankings. Rose Hill reached the state tournament last year and won its two seasons ago, but graduated Gracie Van Driel, now playing at Kansas.

Holton lost to Chapman on Sept. 14, and Abilene on Sept. 21.

In sub-state 4, Chapman is 23-10, and Nickerson stands at 24-12. The teams had big changes in the poll. Chapman bumped from eighth to sixth, while Nickerson fell from fourth to eighth.