Volleyball falls one step short of State
The turnaround season almost transformed into a State berth for the Tonganoxie volleyball team, but once-beaten Lansing served as a large roadblock in the Chieftains' hopes for a trip to Salina.
Tonganoxie, at No. 3, entered the Sub-state tournament at 16-15 and opened with victories against No. 6 Piper and No. 2 KC-Ward before falling to top-seeded Lansing 15-4, 15-3.
Now 34-1, the Lions will enter the State bracket on Friday at Busch-Gross Coliseum in Hays with the top-seed. Tonganoxie's seven points were the most put up against LHS. The Lions surrendered 12 points in three matches Saturday.
THS coach Tiffany Parker said Lansing had impressive size.
"We played well, but Lansing is just huge," Parker said. "That kind of stopped us early."
The Chieftains started somewhat sluggish against low-seeded Piper. Tonganoxie needed three games to defeat the Pirates (11-27), but Parker said the team never panicked.
"It was more like 'What do we have to do to get it done?'"
Tonganoxie prevailed in the match 15-10, 11-15, 15-12. The main strength in the match was the seniors, Parker said.
"They have some good players," Parker said. "They just don't play well together, and we do play well together."
After getting past the Pirates, the Chieftains played No. 2 KC-Ward in what Parker called an emotional match.
Play stopped at one point when Parker had a discussion with the head referee about a call.
"I had a talk with the refs," Parker said. "It was a tense and emotional match. Both teams were fighting to get to finals."
Piper ran a slightly different defense from most teams by situating a front-row player right behind the front-row blockers on defense. Tonganoxie, though, eventually got past Ward 15-13, 15-10, and the Chieftains advanced to the finals, with the help of their fans.
"Our parents were there, so our fan support was really good, especially during the Ward match," Parker said. "The parents stepped in and made it a Tonganoxie gym."
The Chieftains were one step from State, but couldn't generate much of anything against the Lions. THS finished the season with a Sub-state runners-up plaque and an 18-16 record. An even bigger accomplishment might have been Tonganoxie's improvement from last year when the Chieftains finished 9-24.
"I'm extremely happy with the way our season went," Parker said. "The character of the people I was around, the character of the players, the support of parents for my first year of head coaching. That made it the most worthwhile thing I could've done."
Tonganoxie loses five seniors in Cassie Coffin, Andrea Korb, Aimee Eisman, Nancy Milleret and Keri Walker.