Twelve Wichita-area volleyball teams are heading to the 2019 Kansas high school volleyball state tournaments.
From 2010-18, only four Wichita-area programs reached the Class 6A tournament. Derby made it five Saturday. Here is a recap of the biggest matches.
Derby parties like 2002
With two points to go, Derby coach Shelby Kraus looked down her bench and saw a bunch of blank faces.
The Panthers were in shock, about to clinch their first state-tournament berth since 2002.
“Nobody is even getting loud or anything,” Kraus said. “’Do you guys not realize that in two points — two points, that’s all we need, and we’re going to state?’”
Liberal sent a ball beyond the back line to make it one point. After giving up a point, Liberal went to serve and the Panthers had smiles on their faces.
It wasn’t over, but it was.
Derby beat Liberal 25-8, 25-14 in its Class 6A sub-state championship match. The celebration was fitting for a program back in action after a 17-year layoff.
“Props to my teammates; we fought so hard,” senior Sydney Nilles said. “I knew coming in that we had a huge chance. I’m so happy we were able to bring it together for Kraus.”
Derby’s focus now shifts to the state tournament in Salina, where the Panthers will be the No. 3 seed in 6A.
They face another uphill battle. Over the past nine years, only four programs from the Wichita area had reached the 6A state tournament. Derby is No. 5.
Although a Wichita-area team has gone to state in eight of the past nine years, none made it in 2018. On top of that, only one has qualified for the second day of competition since 2010, when Maize finished runner-up.
Senior Heather Mills said this group of Panthers has competed in several state tournament events in other sports. The scene won’t be too big for them.
“We’re just going to play our game,” Mills said. “We’re looking to win games, obviously, but we just want to stay together and lean on our experience. Whatever happens, happens.”
Holy War final goes to experience
When the sub-state tournaments were drawn, a potential meeting between Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel stood out.
Kapaun beat Newton in the first round in three sets, but when the Crusaders met their City League rival in the championship match, it didn’t go to plan.
Kapaun ran out of gas as Carroll captured its third straight 5A state-tournament appearance with a 25-23, 25-10 victory. It was Carroll’s third win over Kapun in three tries this season.
Carroll has a lot of new faces on its state roster, but that championship experience seems to have lifted up the younger Eagles.
Class 2A greats fight for one spot
It all paid off for Garden Plain.
The defending Class 2A champion played one of the toughest schedules in the Wichita area, especially for a school of Garden Plain’s size. When the Owls met Sedgwick in the sub-state championship, that experience in high-pressure moments showed.
Garden Plain beat the Cardinals 25-20, 25-20.
Garden Plain will head back to state for the second straight year. The Owls will be the No. 8 seed at 30-9, but no other team at state has the Owls’ experience and has played the caliber of teams that they have.
Goddard does it on the road
The Lions are back to state for the second time in three years, and this season’s clincher came on the road.
Goddard went to No. 4 seed Great Bend for its 5A sub-state tournament and beat the Panthers in the championship match 20-25, 25-22, 25-23.
Goddard is the only state qualifier in 5A West to win on the road, and one of just two in all of 5A, joining last year’s runner-up, St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Lions haven’t been the most consistent team in the Wichita area this year, but they have proven able to beat any team on any day.
Cheney rips through loaded field
Four of the best teams in the Wichita area met in Haven.
Cheney, Hesston, Trinity Academy and Halstead all competed in the 3A sub-state tournament. With one spot on the line, Cheney came through.
The Cardinals beat Trinity Academy, a state qualifier last year, in the semifinals 25-12, 25-15. Cheney then punched its ticket to state with a three-set win over Hesston, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17.
Cheney had a disappointing season in 2018 but has turned it around in 2019, beating rival Garden Plain four times.