Garden City volleyball, led by Creighton commit Reagan Karlin, was ranked ninth in the Class 6A preseason volleyball poll.
However, the Buffaloes started 4-0 and jumped three slots to six in the Week 1 rankings released last week. GC has several of the state’s statistical leaders. Karlin has cleared 1,000 career kills, and senior setter Remi Vargas and senior back row Kelbi Richter are also approaching milestones.
On Sept. 3, GC won 2-0 at Newton (25-15, 25-14) and also defeated Salina Central by the same margin (25-13, 25-15). The Buffaloes were 1-10 since ’07 against Newton, a perennial volleyball/basketball power.
The win ended a three-game losing streak in the series and marked the first victory versus the Railers since a 2-1 decision on Sept. 19, 2015. GC has captured five in a row versus Salina Central.
On Sept. 5 at home, GC defeated Western Athletic Conference rival Great Bend, 2-1, and then also beat WAC foe Liberal, 2-0. Game scores for the GB match went 25-23, 18-25, 25-17, and Liberal was 25-15, 25-23. Since ’09, GC is a combined 27-3 versus Great Bend and Liberal.
Coach Trista Bailey has a highly talented and experienced squad that has posted 27-14, 34-7, 27-11 and 28-13 marks the last four years. GC has reached the Class 6A state tournament each of those four seasons, though is 2-10 at state and has not reached the final four. Bailey is in her third fall with the program and has a 176-119 career mark.
Karlin has 45 kills for 5.0 per set and a .577 hitting percentage in nine sets. She has recorded kills on 63.4 percent of her swings with just four errors. The 6-foot-1 Karlin, an outside hitter, cleared 1,000 career kills against Liberal.
However, MaxPreps lists players that have played in at least 13 sets this season to qualify for statistical leaders. No qualifying player has a higher hitting percentage than WaKeeney-Trego’s Lili Shubert (.474), well behind Karlin.
Overall, she has 1,007 career kills (3.8 per set) with a .391 career hitting percentage, a highly efficient number. Karlin hit between .365 and .396 her first three seasons. Karlin has also yielded an increase in ace percentage and blocks per set compared to previous years. She has 597 career digs.
Karlin has earned first team all-state the last two seasons.
Junior Julie Calzonetti is second with 24 kills (2.7 per set). Seniors Ashlyn Swan and Alli Meng, along with junior Abby Ellerman are key attackers, too. Richter leads the team with seven aces, while Swan paces with eight blocks, one more than Karlin.
Richter is one of the state’s top backline players with 33 digs for 3.7 per set. She is easily the team’s leading serve-receiver with 47 returns. Vargas has delivered 112 assists for 11.3 per set. MaxPreps has qualifying assist leaders as those who have played in at least five matches. Vargas, though, would lead the state – no qualifying player has more than 10 assists per set.
Karlin, Sawn, Richter and Vargas are the team’s four senior returning starters. The 5-5 Vargas, a three-year starter, is closing in on 2,000 career assists, a significant milestone. She has 1,886 in her career and has averaged 10.4 per set.
Richter, also 5-5, could reach 1,000 career digs, too. She has 814 in her career and has delivered 4.7 per set.
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