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Sports in Kansas: Statewide Volleyball Notes - 10/7/19

Wabaunsee off to a great season in 2019. (photo: Emmy Sedlacek)
By: Conor Nicholl for Sports in Kansas w/ Chet Kuplen
Oct 7, 2019

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By CONOR NICHOLL w/ Chet Kuplen 

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

This week’s notes and Kansas Volleyball Association rankings reflect the updated classifications. The classification changes affected only a couple of teams, most notably in 1A. Wichita Trinity went from fourth in Class 4A to third in 3A. Spearville, the No. 1 team in 1A, moved to 2A and is now ranked ninth. Belle Plaine, fifth-ranked in 3A, dropped to 2A and is seventh.


St. James nationally ranked with Bolton; raising 30k-plus for charity

The Thunder have won nine state championships, all since ’08, including back-to-back titles in ’17 and ’18. St. James has captured national championships in ’11 and ’13 and have sent a bevy of players to high-level Division I success, notably All-Americans Audriana Fitzmorris and Jenna Gray at Stanford and Western Michigan’s Kathleen Riley.

This season, the Thunder have again delivered a big year under longtime coach Nancy Dorsey. St. James is ranked No. 13 nationally in the latest USA Today rankings and stands first in the Class 5A rankings. SJA moved up three spots in last week’s national poll.

On Sept. 26, St. James played rival Miege in its annual Lemon Out event and raised money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a national charity to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Kansas City Fox reported that through different raffles SJA has raised over $30,000 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

On the court, St. James stood at 16-0 at the most recent rankings release last week. After the weekend, SJA is 22-1 after a 26-24, 25-22 loss to rival St. Thomas Aquinas. The Saints, which opened the season in the top-25 nationally, moved from fourth to third in Class 5A last week. Aquinas and SJA play each other often; the teams split four meetings last year.

Last Thursday, SJA rolled over Blue Valley North (25-16, 25-13), which dropped from first to third in Class 6A. As well, the Thunder defeated Aquinas (25-17, 25-21) on Thursday. On Oct. 1, St. James dominated Mill Valley (25-10, 25-18) and Blue Valley (25-12, 25-14). MV is ranked sixth in Class 6A.

St. James has six seniors: libero Ellie Bolton, setter Marea Wortmann, defensive specialist Maureen Reilly, middle/outsides Ellie Wheeler and Anna Feldkamp and middle hitter Lauren Kropf. Bolton is one of the country’s top defensive players and has committed to Creighton. In ’17, Bolton was a Prep Volleyball National Sophomore of the Year finalist. Feldkamp has committed to Division I Loyola of Chicago.

In the team’s most recent statistical release, SJA had incredible balance with three players who led the team with either 127 or 126 kills: Feldkamp, junior Olivia Lovett and Wheeler. Bolton paces with 16 aces, though the top-four all have at least 14. Feldkamp and junior Justine Bichelmeyer lead with 25 and 22 blocks, respectively. Bolton easily has the team high with 171 digs (5.2 per set).

Derby into the rankings in Class 6A; H. Mills nearing 1,000/1,000 career mark; Boettjer stepping up

The Panthers were unranked last week but moved into the Class 6A poll at No. 9 this week at 14-5. Derby enjoyed a big weekend with an Andover tournament championship.

Senior libero Heather Mills posted a joyful message on Twitter and said it was the first time in her high school career Derby volleyball has made the championship game of a tournament – and won a tournament. Derby stands at 21-6 under veteran coach Shelby Kraus.

The Panthers finished 18-21 last season. Before then, Derby had marks of 30-11, 34-7, 25-16 and 25-16.

At Andover, Derby won 2-1 against Wichita Northwest, and then defeated Shawnee Mission North, Wichita Trinity, Rose Hill and Wichita East, all by 2-0 margins.

In the finals, Derby again defeated Wichita Trinity, this time by a 2-1 margin. Trinity Academy is ranked third in Class 3A after the classifications adjustment last week. Trinity was previously ranked fourth in 4A. Trinity won the first set, 25-22, and then Derby came back to win the next two, 25-10, 25-17 for the championship. It marked the first meetings against Rose Hill, Wichita North and Trinity Academy since before 2007.

Trinity is 20-3, though 0-2 against the Panthers. Derby is 3-1 against rival Hutchinson this season. That included an Oct. 1 victory where Derby trailed 15-8 in the first set, came back to win 25-23 in the set and then won 25-11 in the second set.

The Panthers’ losses have come against undefeated Maize South (twice), one-loss Garden City, Hutchinson, Newton and Kapaun. Derby also owns a Sept. 3 victory against Goddard, which is ranked seventh in Class 5A and stands at 20-3, including 18 wins its last 19 matches.

Junior Sophie Connor and sophomore Tatum Boettjer average 2.7 kills per set, and senior Jalen Keener is second with 2.5 kills. The trio all has between 115 and 120 kills. The 6-foot-2 Boettjer has stepped up after she did not play varsity last season. She also carries a .296 average and was first team all-tournament team at Andover.

This season, Connor leads with 33 aces. Junior Lexi Pitts has a team-high 37 blocks. Pitts was also not on varsity last season – and has more blocks than anyone else on the ’18 roster.

Senior captain Sydney Nilles, also a great basketball player who has been a key contributor for Derby in the winter, has an all-around season with a team-high 426 assists, along with 70 kills, 19 aces, 34 blocks and 103 digs. Derby girls’ basketball has taken second, first and third at state the last three years, and Nilles has committed to Newman for basketball.

In ’18, O’Connor, Nilles and Keener were the team’s first, third and fourth leaders in kills, respectively.

The 5-foot-5 Mills is a three-sport player who is on the soccer and basketball teams. She has a very strong chance to clear 1,000 digs and 1,000 serve receptions in her career. At the most recent Derby statistical release, she has 912 digs and 940 serve receptions in her career.

Mills is the team’s leader with 245 service returns and ranks second with 192 digs, 14 behind Connor. Derby has delivered 16.2 digs per set. Last year, Mills easily led the team with 443 digs (5.2 per set).

Maize South remains undefeated with big wins against Goddard, Garden City

The Mavericks bumped from sixth to fifth in Class 5A and are currently 26-0. On Oct. 1, Maize South defeated Goddard, which is ranked seventh in 5A and hadn’t lost since the opening weekend.

Maize South won 25-19, 19-25, 25-21. Senior Erica Fava finished with a double-double with 13 kills and 11 digs, while senior McKinley Pruitt had eight kills with an excellent .444 hitting percentage. Senior Carly Sterneker led with 14 digs, and junior Laurel Jones, a Marquette commit, delivered 31 assists.

On Thursday, Maize South defeated Garden City, 25-22, 25-16. Fava had another big match with nine kills and a .562 average and eight digs. GC senior Reagan Karlin, a Creighton signee with more than 1,000 career kills, had 13 kills with a .522 hitting percentage. However, Maize South outhit GC, .261-.141.

The Mavericks held an 8-4 edge in blocks with four from senior McKinley Pruitt. Jones finished with 22 assists, and GC senior Remi Vargas had 21. Vargas has more than 2,000 career assists. The first set was tied at 22 before Maize South ran off three straight points, the last from Jones. Maize South led 23-10 in the second set.

Great Bend with big turnaround; wins own tournament; Unruh hits milestone

Great Bend is unranked in deep Class 5A but stands at 19-4 after 11-21 and 17-16 records the last two seasons. Coach Shelly Duvall is in her second year with the program.

GB has seven seniors, none taller than 5-10: outside/right sid Kayli Shull, right side Jayden Johnson, middle blocker/outside Olivia Mull, specialist Mara Fletchall, all-around Jenna Mauler, middle blocker Emma Wasinger and setter Alyssa Herter. GB also has many juniors in key roles and has had strong ball control and defense as a team.

GB won its own tournament and defeated Salina Central (2-0), Ulysses (2-0), rival Hays High (2-1), Phillipsburg (2-1) and Hutchinson (2-1). Phillipsburg has been ranked in 3A. GB has won seven in a row.

Overall, Great Bend averages 13 kills per set with a .245 hitting percentage, along with 17.4 digs and 2.4 aces per set.

Last year, GB had 11.7 kills per set with a .164 average, along with 17.8 digs and two aces a set.

Mauler (150), Mull (130), junior Rachel Panzer (123) and junior Brynn Boxberger (116) lead the team in kills. GB has errors on just 12.4 percent of swings. GB is plus-28 in service aces to service errors, a strong ratio.

Last season, the Panthers had errors on just 16.9 percent of swings and were plus-14 on service aces to service errors.

Junior Sydney Unruh has 301 digs (5.6 per set). Junior Zoe Jerke leads with 295 assists, and Herter has 260 assists. Unruh has 344 receptions this season and earned her 1,000 career serve-receive last week.

Herington enjoying nice fall after graduating nine seniors; Carrie Roe with big season; coach battling health

Herington struggled in 2016-17 before a 24-14 mark in ’18 and a 15-5 start this season. The Railers have lost three times to rival Rural Vista, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A. Herington took RV to three sets twice. The other losses have come against Little River (ranked ninth in 1A) and Sacred Heart.

Last year’s roster had nine seniors and sophomore outside hitter Carrie Roe, who earned 2A honorable mention. This season, Herington is playing with two seniors, two juniors and the rest are sophomores.

Roe has enjoyed a great season with 176 kills (4.8 per set) and a .353 hitting percentage. She has well over half her team’s kills and ranks in the top-20 in Kansas in kills per set, according to MaxPreps statewide lists.

Sophomore Halle Rutschman has emerged as a quality second option with 68 kills and a team-high 20 aces. Sophomore Emma Alt leads with 41 blocks, and sophomore Megan Mortensen has delivered 38 blocks.

Rutschman leads with 214 digs (5.8 per set) and Roe has 206 digs (5.6). Both players are in the top-20 in digs per set. Sophomore Tristyn Kremeier leads with 228 assists. Herington finished second in the Centre tournament after losing to Rural Vista.

Last Thursday, Herington also played without its head coach Lisa Beye. She started her first treatment for breast cancer with a minor surgery.

Tournament championships for highly ranked teams

Alma-Wabaunsee won its fourth championship this season with the Onaga tournament last weekend. Wabaunsee is ranked first in Class 2A and stands at 20-3. The Chargers were Class 2A state runner-up last year.

Centralia, ranked second in 1A, won the Valley Falls tournament.

Spring Hill’s Stevenson commits to Washburn

On Oct. 4, Spring Hill junior Jalyn Stevenson committed to Washburn University, the longtime Division II power. Stevenson has helped Spring Hill rank second in Class 5A under coach Erica Book (Cowhick), a former All-American at Washburn.

Spring Hill took its first loss this weekend against Blue Valley Southwest. SH is 25-1 with the league championship versus Bonner Springs on Thursday. Stevenson has enjoyed a mammoth year with 219 kills (4.0 per set), along with a .352 hitting percentage. She ranks second with 31 aces and 129 digs. Freshman Daphne Gardner has enjoyed a big year with 525 assists.

League matches upcoming in Three Rivers

Southeast Cherokee went 1-1 in a triangular against Parsons and Frontenac on Oct. 3. SE beat Parsons, 25-17, 16-25, 25-13. Senior Katie Bitner had seven kills and 10 assists, while junior Railey Robertson finished with eight kills and eight digs. Freshman Lily Webster delivered three aces, five kills and two blocks. Senior Jordan Jameson finished with nine digs. In a 2-0 loss to Frontenac, SE received 10 digs from Jameson.

SE stands at 14-12 and will have a league night triangular at Oswego with Arma-Northeast and Oswego.

Other impressive happenings

Hoxie picked up the win at the Oberlin Tournament this weekend, Halstead went 5-0 to win the Canton-Galva tournament, Great Bend won their own tournament at home this weekend, Centralia won the Valley Falls tournament going 5-0, Wabaunsee won the Onaga Tournament going 5-0. 

Impressive hitters in 2019

Sabry Trout of Chanute is hitting .698 this season with 195 kills

Reagan Karlin, a Creighton signee of Garden City HS (6A), is having a huge season with 222 kills while hitting .506.

Winny Harris of Atchison (4A) is hitting .545 this season with 276 kills

Lili Shubert is hitting .475 for Trego with 176 kills.

Shea Larson and Hanna Pearson have had huge years for Beloit as they each are hitting .461 and .449 this season. Larsons with 226 kills and Pearson with 132.

Anna Feldkamp of St. James (5A) is hitting .428 this season for the Thunder.

Austin Broadie of Trinity Academy has 275 kills this season with a .415 hitting percentage.

Megan Stretton of Shawnee Heights (5A) is hitting .395 with 136 kills.

Hannah Reidy of Rural Vista (1A) hitting .389 this season with 158 kills.

It’s not just one player with all the stats for Riverton but Jacey Thomasson is having a huge freshman year for Riverton hitting .467 on the year with 183 kills. Rams are a definite team to watch out for in 3A this season as well. Wichita State softball commit Camryn Compton is also hitting .366 on the year with 136 kills. Danielle Weaver also has 116 kills. Emma Berry has been responsible for the majority of the assists with 379 on the year.

Jaci Brinker of Valley Falls has over 1,300 kills in her career. 

Tasiah Nunnery, last season WAC player of the year for Hays (5A), is having another huge season with a .389 hitting percentage on 158 kills.

Jalyn Stevenson of Spring Hill (5A) is having a monster season at outside hitter with 260 kills with a .373 hitting percentage. Her teammate Kate Frakes also hitting .371.

Millie Stockard is having one of the best seasons in Kansas with a .367 with 340 kills this season for the Panthers in 2A. Kaitlin Crossland, last years 2-1A softball player of the year from Sports in Kansas, also has 204 kills for the Panthers.

McKenna Kirkpatrick is hitting .363 with 276 kills for Chapman.

Reagan Hipfl is having a breakout season for 3A Frontenac with a .336 hitting percentage on 168 kills.

Pitt State signee Keagan Shockley is hitting .329 this season with 147 kills.

Samantha Blundell of 1A Chetopa has 302 kills this season for the Green Hornets who look to make some noise in the small classes of Kansas. Teammate Brali Conrad has 253 kills on the year. Blundell has 1,139 kills in her career.

Delaney Barnes of 3A Baxer, a multiple-sport all-stater that includes basketball, is having a huge year with 296 kills this season.

Morgan McIntire of Gardner Edgerton (6A) has 267 kills this season for the Blazers.

Reanne Debose has 251 kills this season for SM Northwest in 6A.

Setting it up – Big time assists numbers

Daphne Gardner of Spring Hill has 575 assists this season for the 5A Broncos.

Taylor Pierce of Basehor Linwood has 575 assists for the the Bobcats.

Ainsley Corwine with 564 assists for West Franklin.

Camryn Honn of Blue Valley Northwest has 558 assists in 6A this season.

Kendra Wait may be the best multiple sport athlete in the state and the junior out of Gardner Edgerton has 539 assists this season. She is also an outstanding state champion track and field athlete in the sprints, vault and throws. She has committed to Creighton. Her sister, Cassie, was an All-Big 12 pick at Kansas a few seasons back.

Laurel Jones is having a big year for Maize South with 534 assists on the year.

Catherine Tucker of Valley Heights has 516 assists this season.

Remi Vargas has been the key piece to set it for Reagan Karlin this year as she has 480 assists for the 6A Buffaloes.

Torrie Albertson has 452 assists this season to help set up Samantha Blundell and Chetopa in 1A.

Kirsten Evans of Ottawa has 526 assists.

Gracen Hipfl has 495 assists this season for the 3A Frontenac Raiders as she has help set up her twin sister, Reagan, listed above.


Brianna Gough and Breeanna Young have teamed up for 260 blocks this season in 6A.

Laura Savage is over 100 blocks this season for Marion with 103.

Blundell of Chetopa also in this category as the 1A player has 97 blocks this year.

Jaycee Ginter, a standout softball player, with 74 blocks for the 5A Thunderbirds of Shawnee Heights. Taylor Hawkins is second on the team with 65.

Madison Bruna of Hanover has had a breakout year with 66 blocks this season.

Haley Helms of West Elk has racked up 87 blocks this season.

Wait of Gardner Edgerton also with 64 blocks this season and is much more than a setter.

Dig It

Madelyn Koop has had an outstanding year picking up 501 digs for West Elk.

Young of Blue Valley also on this list as she has 353 digs this season.

Alexis Hafenstine has had quite the year for Wabaunsee with 322 digs on the season.

Shea Hanna of Seabury in Lawrence has had a big year with 397 digs in 2019.

Caitlyn Rexroat has 309 digs this season for Spring Hill.

Sydney Unruh has been huge for Great Bend this year with 301 digs on the season.

Bailey Rhuems has had a solid senior year in leading the 3A Frontenac Radiers with 300 digs this season.

Dalainy Anderson isn’t the only one with that name, although spelled different, doing big things for Baxter this season as she has 287 kills.

Reese Curry has 246 digs this season for the Oskaloosa Beers and is also one of the better small school softball players in Kansas.

Anna Burnett has 324 digs this season for Baldwin.

Mattit Mead of Santa Fe Trail is now over 1,500 digs in her career. 

Meiko Pearson with a huge year for BV Northwest as she has 340 digs this season.


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