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Sports in Kansas: Statewide Volleyball Notes - 10/23/20

Cheney is a team to watch for this season.
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas
Oct 23, 2020

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By CONOR NICHOLL

Submit info at any time for consideration to: Cnicholl1@gmail.com

2020 Volleyball Updates are presented by Nex-Tech Wireless, Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE), American Implement, Craw-Kan Telephone, Rainbow Communications, Labette Bank

All rankings as of Oct. 21 by the Kansas Volleyball Association

Statewide Volleyball Notes – 10/23/20

Sub-State Preview: Sedgwick looks to break through with state appearance

Head coach Karen Stucky, in her 18th season at Sedgwick, and assistant coach Sarah Sampson highly stressed depth in the summer. The Cardinals wanted to have at least two deep at every position in case players had to miss time because of coronavirus exposure.

“We were prepared no matter what situation we faced this year,” Stucky said.

Sedgwick opened 4-0, including a pair of victories versus Sterling. After a loss to Garden Plain, the Cardinals reeled off 10 consecutive wins with two victories against Inman. The Cardinals were virtually unaffected by COVID until the double matches versus Heart of America foe Hutchinson Trinity on Oct. 6, the season’s final home date. If Sedgwick won both matches, the Cardinals would capture their fourth straight league title. The seniors earned conference crowns in seventh and eighth grade.

The girls knew a male student had tested positive and talked about it in the locker room before the 5 p.m. match against Trinity Catholic. Sedgwick beat the Celtics, 25-9, 25-9.

“They were saying how some of them sat close to him,” Stucky said. “And so while they were talking, my mind was really thinking, ‘What If?’ and that ‘what if’ happened.”

Before the 7 p.m. match, the health department contacted senior setter Kami Matson, a returning first team all-conference pick. She went into quarantine. The Cardinals managed to hold on and win 29-27, 25-21. Then, after the win, a middle hitter went into quarantine.

“We didn’t want to keep that on the down low,” Stucky said. “We wanted to be honest and put it right out there. It was sad for her. It was her last home match. That was the match that meant we were league champions four times in a row. I mean, it was pretty devastating. But it was good to see us rally, and we battled, and we ended up winning. That was kind of a crazy night.”

On Oct. 13, the Cardinals completed the regular season with a win versus Centre-Lost Springs and a loss versus Sterling. Sedgwick missed three players, two seniors and a junior. The Cardinals finished 30-5 and are the No. 2 seed in the Inman sub-state that occurs Saturday.

“We battled and we tried our best to treat it like a challenge instead of a woe is me kind of thing,” Stucky said. “And now we are all back, and we are just playing with a new appreciation and a new gratefulness knowing that it could be taken away very quickly.”

Stucky is 471-204 with the Cardinals, including 38-2 last fall. However, Sedgwick has made one all-time state appearance, in ’05, according to KSHSAA archives. Sedgwick is part of a group of teams that have enjoyed a strong 2020 and look to break a long state drought, including Goodland, Lakin, St. Francis, Herington and Great Bend. Additionally, 6A Olathe Northwest is unbeaten, and 3A features some remarkably challenging sub-states.

The Class 2A sub-state at Hill City is expected to miss Ellinwood and WaKeeney-Trego, two of the top-three teams, because of COVID-19. The sub-state was originally supposed to be in Trego.

The Cardinals lost to powerhouse Garden Plain each of the past two years in sub-state. This season, GP is ranked fourth in 2A, Sedgwick eighth.

“They have been a monkey on our back, so I think we go into every sub-state knowing that anybody can beat us and that we can beat anybody,” Stucky said. “But I tell you, Garden Plain, in my mind is always one of the top-two teams in the state of Kansas. They are so well-coached, and they have great athletes, and it just hasn’t been our time yet.”

This season, Inman’s sub-state features No. 1 seed Hillsboro (23-3), along with Inman (25-7), Sterling (17-11), Moundridge (14-13) and Whitewater-Remington (14-13). Sedgwick has not faced Hillsboro since ’15, while the rest are HOA schools the Cardinals frequently see. Hillsboro is ranked second in 2A.

“I will be honest, when we got the sub-state assignments, it was just a little bit of a relief for our girls to know that that wasn’t the challenge that was going to be lingering in their minds,” Stucky said. “But the thing about our sub-state is it’s basically a league tournament. And we have already played all of our league schools at least twice, and so now we have to go do it again, and that makes our sub-state almost another kind of mental challenge. But we are certainly ready for it.”

Sedgwick returned a bevy of experience, especially with juniors and seniors. This summer, the seniors picked players up for weights, took them home, went out to eat, hung out, and communicated via SnapChat to build strong chemistry. Stucky labeled the team “a great unified group.”

“When we’ve got young players that are up and down, they provide the consistency to our program, and it’s been easy to get our young girls comfortable, because they have been allowed to make mistakes because of the consistency of the seniors,” Stucky said. “Off the court, it was pretty apparent early on this summer that the seniors understood that they were going to have to rely on young players.”

Senior Taylinn Lacey, a first team all-league outside hitter in ’19, leads with 250 kills and a 2.03 serve-receive rating. She has 247 digs. Matson missed three matches because of quarantine and has paced with 612 assists, among Kansas’ highest totals.

Her twin, Madi, has played different roles in high school, including hitter, libero. She is a multi-purpose role this fall with 127 kills. Kami and Madi are identical twins. Coach Stucky and longtime Goessel coach Crysta Guhr are also identical twins. Coach Sampson cannot tell the Matsons apart.

“Kami and Madi, they are just joys,” Stucky said. “Very light-hearted. Very light spirited, and they bring a lot of fun to the team, where Taylinn might be a little bit more serious, Kami and Madi are much more light-hearted, so they keep things easy, and every team needs that.”

Junior middle blocker Alexa Scarlett, a three-sport athlete known for her athleticism in multiple sports and high kill efficiency in volleyball, has 145 kills and 44 blocks. For the first time, Scarlett has played nearly all rotations, including passing and defense.

“A fabulous, dynamic athlete,” Stucky said. “She just seems to turn every ball into gold.”

Freshmen Logan Stucky and Talya Sampson, the coaches’ daughters, have delivered strong seasons.

Stucky, the libero, leads in aces (69) and digs (284), and is second in serve-receive at 1.93. Sampson is second in kills (149) and aces (49). Lacey and Stucky are the top passers. Sophomores Liana McGonigle and Addie Fitch are part of the rotation.

“The ability of the seniors to kind of envelope everybody and be good leaders, that’s been fabulous,” coach Stucky said. “And again just handling the stress of not knowing when and if people are going to be available to play.”

Herington looks to break through with experienced group

Herington hosts a Class 2A sub-state and leads Kansas by a substantial margin in hitting percentage. The sub-state is very deep. Herington is the No. 1 seed at 29-2, while Valley Heights is seeded second at 29-5.

Washington County has made a nice turnaround and is the fourth seed at 17-7. Wabaunsee is fifth at 23-10. Valley Heights was ranked first in 2A in the preseason, and Wabaunsee has taken second and first at state the last two seasons.

Herington’s lone state appearance in the last 20 years came in 2002.

This year, Herington won the Wheat State League tournament on Oct. 17. Libero Madi Becker suffered a pinkie finger injury on Oct. 13. Herington had to rearrange its lineup and put two freshmen in the lineup who had very limited varsity time. One of the two seniors, Hannah Pohlman, moved to libero. Herington has two seniors and seven juniors who have seen substantial time.

Carrie Roe and left-hander Halle Rutschman are the outside hitters and have great years. Herington has had sub-state runner-up showings in recent seasons. Coach Lisa Beye has led the squad.

Roe is one of the state’s best hitters with 363 kills and a .476 average. Herington has errors on just eight percent of swings, a miniscule rate. Roe notably has just 37 errors on 685 swings. Rutschman is hitting .316 with 201 kills.

Goodland on long winning streak; Lakin wins another league tournament, sets goals for state

The Scott City sub-state has seven teams at .500 or better, part of the extremely deep 3A classification. Goodland (30-5) is seeded first, while Lakin (26-9) is second. Scott City (21-14) is ranked fourth after it qualified for state last year. Goodland last qualified in ’03, ’10, ’13 and ’15. Lakin last qualified in ’04 and ’14.

Great Bend endures two quarantines, looks to qualify for state

Since ’02, Great Bend volleyball qualified in ’07 and ’13. Coach Shelly Duvall enjoyed a nice turnaround last season. GB is the No. 1 seed in its sub-state at 18-10 and gets rival Hays High (13-22) in the first round. Salina Central and Salina South are both under .500 in the other first round matchup. GB has dealt with COVID-19 concerns throughout the season.

Great Bend is known for defense with seniors Sydney Unruh, Rachel Panzer, and Lexi Deines. Unruh has 457 digs, Panzer has 252 and Deines with 237.

Olathe Northwest and Garden City bring streaks into 6A

Garden City (17-13) is the No. 2 seed in the Dodge City sub-state. Hutchinson (19-13) is the top seed. GC has won 10 straight Western Athletic Conference championships.

In the Olathe East sub-state, Olathe Northwest is 24-0 in a sub-state where the other three teams that have a combined 19 wins. Northwest has a bevy of talented freshmen. Northwest is ranked first in 6A.

Coach Barry Lenth has built Northwest into a national program, though Northwest took a rare down year to 14-21 last fall. This season, the Ravens’ top-four hitters are all freshmen.

Skyler Pierce has 222 kills with a .303 average. Jillian Huckabey has 149 kills. Julia Headley has 147 kills and a .381 mark. Lauren Roediger carries a .282 average.

Corwines try to end West Franklin drought

The 3A Burlington sub-state features top-seeded West Franklin (28-3). Eureka (22-4) is the second seed. West Franklin is seeded eighth in 3A. In the last 25 years, West Franklin’s lone state appearance came in 2007.

Coach Angie Corwine has senior Ainsley Corwine, who has 738 assists. Corwine has 3,238 career assists.

3A sub-state at St. Marys loaded

This is Kansas’ best sub-state. Sabetha (32-1) is the No. 1 seed, while Royal Valley (23-6) the second seed. Sabetha beat Royal Valley earlier in the season, and RV then handed the Bluejays’ only defeat. Nemaha Central (26-9) is Sabetha’s big in-county rival. Rossville (24-9) faces Silver Lake (26-11) in the War on 24 rivalry in the 4/5 matchup. Hiawatha (19-11) is the sixth seed. Royal Valley is the defending state champion.

Sabetha is ranked first in 3A, with Royal Valley fifth, Rossville sixth, Silver Lake ninth and Nemaha Central tenth. Sabetha last qualified for state in 1999.

Other 3A sub-states

The Russell sub-state features Mid-Continent League rivals Phillipsburg (33-3) and Thomas More Prep-Marian (27-7). Phillipsburg has won both matches this fall, including the Mid-Continent League tournament championship. Phillipsburg, featured this week on SIK, is ranked seventh. TMP has been ranked this season.

The Smoky Valley sub-state has No. 1 seed Smoky Valley (27-2) and second seed Rock Creek (25-8). Rock Creek captured the Mid-East League for the first time in school history. Smoky Valley won the Central Kansas League for the first time since the mid-80s. Both teams, featured on SIK this fall, have opportunities for history. Smoky Valley is ranked third.

Rock Creek has made one state tournament since ’99, a second-place finish in ’08. Smoky Valley last reached state in ’86.

The Cheney sub-state has No. 1 Cheney (25-3) and second-seeded Trinity Academy (22-6). Cheney has its experienced senior group led by Kylie Scheer and libero Lexi Cline, while Trinity has Austin Broadie, a Washburn commit. Cheney is ranked second, and Trinity Academy fourth.

For junior, Olivia Albers has 176 kills, while Scheer has 159 kills. Cline has 414 digs, for seven digs per set.

Meade/Fowler and Spearville posed for 2A rematch

In the 2A Syracuse sub-state, Meade is 30-2, and Spearville stands at 28-2. The teams split two meetings. Spearville stands fifth, and Meade is unranked. Spearville is the defending 2A runner-up to Wabaunsee. Spearville has senor Alissa Heskamp, a returning first team all-state libero. Meade junior Kylin Rudzik, known for kills with both left and right hands, has 203 kills.

Individual Statistics

Kills

Shubert, WaKeeney-Trego, 502

Lovesee, Bluestem, 493

Thomasson, Riverton, 493

Weidel, Ottawa, 459

Regier, Newton, 454

Pelham, Maranatha Christian Academy, 411

Cruse, Bonner Springs, 392

Hunter, Belle Plaine, 381

Harris, Atchison, 373

Broadie, Wichita Trinity, 369

Blocks

Hurd, Perry-Lecompton, 161

Brake, Inman, 140

Damme, Perry-Lecompton, 116

Budke, Beloit, 114

Schutter, Wabaunsee, 110

Baliel, Marion, 110

Deters, Sabetha, 103

Lentz, Maize, 96

Schroeder, Victoria, 92

Wiles, Beloit St. John’s/Tipton, 89

Aces

Davis, Heritage Christian Academy, 86

Meyers, Sedan, 82

Lehman, Goodland, 77

Bruce, Atchison, 75

Berry, Riverton, 74

Dumler, Cimarron, 72

Shanfelt, Wichita Classical, 72

Dunstan, Rock Hills, 67

Cline, Sylvan-Lucas, 64

Kulp, 64

Digs

Ziolo, Tonganoxie, 498

Unruh, Great Bend, 457

Hett, Marion, 448

Cisneros, Liberal, 441

McMillan, Beloit, 428

Enderud, Udall, 424

Jones, Norton, 419

Latta, Scott City, 419

Cline, Cheney, 414

Curry, Oskaloosa, 409

Hitting Percentage

Shubert, WaKeeney-Trego, .490

Pelham, Maranatha Christian Academy, .481

Roe, Herington, .476

Trout, Chanute, .436

Coopman, Pomona-West Franklin, .420

Cruse, Bonner Springs, .400

Harris, Atchison, .400

Rose, Smoky Valley, .376

Martin, Aquinas, .365

Schutter, Wabaunsee, .360

Team

Hitting Percentage

Herington, .338

WaKeeney-Trego, .318

Spring Hill, .313

St. Thomas Aquinas, .290

Wichita Trinity Academy, .285

Bonner Springs, .277

Beloit, .271

Hanover, .269

Lansing, .265

Rural Vista, .264

 


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