MAIZE — Going a majority of the day without dropping a game, Maize looked poised to win its own volleyball tournament Saturday.
Then things went downhill.
"We ran out of steam," Maize coach Betsy Manning said. "We just had a few things not go our way. We dug ourselves a hole too quickly and we weren't able to pull back out of it."
The hole came in the third set of the championship match against No. 1 ranked Blue Valley West.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Maize started slow, allowing BV West to scored nine of the first 10 points.
Maize drummed up a small comeback to cut the lead to 14-6, but a relentless BV West team would not give much breathing room, scoring 12 of the final 15 points to win 25-9.
The large deficit was a rarity in the tournament for Maize. The team won the first set against Blue Valley West 27-25 and lost the second 26-24.
"I felt like they played their hearts out," Manning said. "It wasn't for a lack of desire."
The Eagles only other loss came in the opening set of the semifinals, where they came up short against Newton 27-25. They won the next two sets 25-19, 25-11 to advance to the championship.
"We played six sets in a row," Manning said. "By that sixth set you're really trying to not beat yourself at that point. It's exhausting, but that's where your mental toughness has to override your physical toughness."
The tournament featured some of the best in the state. Beside Blue Valley West, there were two other Class 6A ranked in the top five of the coaches' poll, Maize and Northwest.
"It's nice to know that you have this much talent around the Wichita-area," Manning said. "This is going to be very similar to what state will be like with the quality of teams here today."
Blue Valley West coach Terry Flynn agreed.
"For us, it's a great time to get to see some teams that we wouldn't normally get to see until we play them at state," she said.
Despite coming up short against a team Maize might see in the postseason, Manning is content with where her team is right now.
"We know what we still need to work on," she said. "We have six weeks until it really counts. This isn't the point in the season where you want to peak."
Maize def. North 25-3, 25-13; Maize def. Moundridge 25-13, 25-8; Maize def. Kapaun 25-19, 25-16; Kapaun def. Moundridge 25-18, 25-15; Kapaun def. North 23-25, 25-16, 25-12; North def. Moundridge 25-15, 25-22
Blue Valley West def. Maize South 29-27, 25-14; Blue Valley West def. Hutchinson 25-11, 25-12 ; Newton def. Blue Valley West 25-12, 23-15, 25-23; Newton def. Maize South 25-17, 15-25, 25-20 ; Newton def. Hutchinson 25-18, 25-20; Maize South def. Hutchinson 25-18, 25-22
Northwest def. Word of Life 25-4, 25-3; Northwest def. Derby 25-18, 25-8; Northwest def. Emporia 25-15, 15-15; Derby def. Emporia 25-22, 25-22; Emporia def. Word of Life 25-3, 25-4; Derby def. Word of Life 25-10, 25-6
Blue Valley West def. Northwest 25-23, 26-28, 25-21; Maize def. Newton 27-29, 25-19, 25-11; Blue Valley West def. Maize 25-27,26-24, 25-9; Northwest def. Newton 25-20, 19-25, 20-25
North def. Derby 25-21, 18-25, 25-15; Kapaun def. Maize South 23-25, 25-22. 25-18; Kapaun def. North 27-25, 25-31
Emporia def. Word of Life 25-9, 25-13; Emporia def. Hutchinson 25-20, 25-8; Hutchinson def. Moundridge 25-20, 25-15; Moundridge def. Word of Life 25-9, 25-24