There's no doubting Heights coach Gary Thomason's passion for volleyball. He's a vocal guy during matches, unafraid to state his displeasure with his team or a referee's call.
But just how dedicated he is to the Falcons became clear during the summer when his doctor scheduled him to have surgery on Aug. 30.
"I said, 'Sorry, we have Carroll on Aug. 31,' " Thomason said.
Thomason has a non-cancerous tumor in his stomach. On Nov. 1, two days after the Class 6A tournament, he will have surgery to remove the tumor and about 50 percent of his stomach.
He'll be out two weeks, which means he'll return in time to his assistant boys basketball coaching job at Heights.
Thomason averages three hours of sleep each night in a recliner because of severe coughing. But it was important to him to coach the Falcons all season.
They started off poorly, losing three of their first four matches to Carroll, Northwest and East. But they won 15 of their next 18 and are 20-10 now.
Middle Perri Tucker has been strong offensively, while Isabel Valdez is a threat on the block. Heights' top hitter is Crystal Whitten, an All-Metro selection as a sophomore.
"Last year she came out and was a dominant hitter," Thomason said. "This year we've asked her to place her shots and start hitting for average.... She's been conscious of that and not necessarily going for the gusto. She's about keeping the ball in play."
Still winning — When Goddard's top hitter, senior Shelby Zoglman, injured an ankle last month, coach David Gardner was forced to move his players around to cover up that the Lions had lost their most dominating hitter and blocker.
It hasn't been an easy transition, but Goddard (25-4) continues to win.
"We've been plugging along," Gardner said. "We've played a lot of three-set matches where normally we would only play two. If we can eliminate the errors on our side... "
Zoglman returned to play recently in a back-row role. At the McPherson tournament on Saturday, she played more, but isn't at 100 percent.
Gardner moved freshman Josey Trimble to middle from right front.
"She's still a little timid with the hitting, but as far as blocking and defense, she's doing better," Gardner said. "Mostly our two outside hitters — Shelby Ebarb and Rachel Lee — have been picking up the slack."
Losing Zoglman in the back row was an issue, too. But libero Cori O'Donoghue has played well.
Goddard plays in a triangular with Andover at Andover Central tonight. Goddard also will host a tournament on Saturday.