SALINA — Collegiate volleyball coach Donnie Wallace had his team pointing for a state championship all season. And it paid off.
Collegiate cruised past Phillipsburg 25-17 25-19 in the Class 3A championship match to win the school's first volleyball state title Saturday at the Bicentennial Center.
"Coming into the season, we did not want just want to be happy that we are here," Wallace said. "It was a great accomplishment going to state the first time in school history, but we didn't want that to be the end."
It was the second time in consecutive days Collegiate faced Phillipsburg. And even though the Spartans were victorious in both matches, senior Caroline Nelson said the title game was a challenge.
"We knew they would come out with a different fire," Nelson said. "But we knew if we played our game, we could take care of business."
By using their height advantage, the Spartans were able to dominate at the net and make sure the Panthers had no easy points.
"I thought our defense was better," Wallace said. "Our defense was absolutely there every time. Our three defenders were everywhere and that was the big difference."
Collegiate jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the first game before Panthers coach Terra Keeten called a timeout. Keeten said Phillipsburg played the Spartans tougher, but it wasn't enough.
"I feel like they gave everything they got," Keeten said of her players. "They played very aggressive and felt we attacked the ball well.
"Collegiate is just very tough, very hard to defend at the net. They are a very talented team."
Collegiate ended with a 40-1 record. For senior Morgan Feist, the championship was all about teamwork.
"It was awesome moment for us because the seniors tried to stay together and create a bond and it really showed in the last games," Feist said. "Our talent was awesome, but our togetherness and our determination toward one goal was the main reason we won."
Wallace said Collegiate has set the foundation for future success.
"We have a lot of talent," Wallace said. "There is no way you can find a group of girls that work harder than they did."
Class 4A — Cheney finished third in 4A, beating Abilene 25-20, 21-25, 25-21 in the consolation game at the Bicentennial Center.
"I think this is the best we played all season. I think we made the adjustments we needed to and I am thrilled with a third-place finish," Cheney coach Sara Lungren said. "We made a few too many errors along the way."
The Cardinals lost to Lenexa St. James in the semifinals. St. James beat Topeka Hayden for its second consecutive Class 4A title.