Chieftain volleyball improves to 3-0 with commanding wins
Tonganoxie's opening quadrangular has carried the same tune in recent seasons.
In past years, THS would take care of Atchison and Bonner Springs before losing to volleyball heavyweight Baldwin.
Last Thursday, the Chieftains were dancing to their own beat.
Tonganoxie throttled Atchison, 25-8, 25-12, and then defeated Bonner Springs, 25-11, 25-13.
In the nightcap, THS took on Baldwin, a state tournament regular.
The Chieftains kept their momentum rolling. THS opened game 1 with an 8-0 run. BHS cut the margin to seven at 9-2, but Tonganoxie eventually finished with another 8-0 run and ended the game with a 25-5 win.
Baldwin came back in game 2. The Bulldogs led early with a 4-1 advantage. THS went on a 5-1 run and took the lead for good. Baldwin came to within one point at 14-13, but the Chieftains again used a strong late push for a 25-17 win. The win moved Tonganoxie to 3-0 on the season after their home opener. BHS fell to 4-5.
"Coming in to tonight I was afraid we would be a little rusty," said senior Addie Heim, who had five kills against Baldwin. "We looked pretty smooth."
The competition didn't necessarily provide the bumpiest of roads. This year's Baldwin team, for instance, is without standout Emily Brown, who graduated last year and now plays at Kansas. Emily's mother, Jill, was Baldwin's longtime coach before stepping down after last year's state run.
But Tonganoxie's co-head coach Brandon Parker said he was unsure how the team would respond to its season-opening matches on its home court after three weeks of practice.
"It was better than I thought it would be," Parker said Thursday, noting a sub-par practice earlier in the week. "After three weeks of practice, you practice so much you're not sure you can beat yourself."
On Thursday, however, the Chieftains were crisp.
The team moved quickly from defense to offense and caused opponents trouble with a balanced offense. The Chieftains seemed to drill volleyballs at every inch of the opponents' court. Baldwin's 17 points in the second game of their match was the closest a team came to Tonganoxie on Thursday.
THS defeated Atchison, 25-8, 25-12, and Bonner Springs, 25-11, 25-15.
Heim led the team in kills with 14 on the evening. She had three against Bonner Springs and six against Atchison.
"Addie did what she needed to do as the big gun coming in," Parker said.
The team had other ammunition as well.
Freshman Sami Franiuk registered five kills against Baldwin, while sophomore Ali Pistora had four each against Bonner Springs and Atchison.
Senior Hannah Heintzelman also had four kills against Atchison.
"I think Hannah Heintzelman played well for not playing varsity before," Parker said.
Without a setter, those kills wouldn't happen. Senior Laura Jeannin provided plenty of assists in the Chieftains' sweep.
"L.J. had an excellent night," Parker said. "She did a good job of mixing it up."
Tonganoxie's season continued Tuesday with another quadrangular against Paola, De Soto and Central Heights in De Soto. Parker said Paola and Tonganoxie "had a pretty heated rivalry" and that the match "would be a good indicator of where we're at."
Because the matches didn't meet The Mirror's deadline, a story about those matches will appear in next week's edition.
Tonganoxie will play again next Tuesday against Perry-Lecompton and Piper in Piper before competing in its first tournament of the year -- the Tonganoxie Invitational on Sept. 25.
THS volleyball notes
Senior Kara Coffee sat out Tonganoxie's opening matches Thursday because of tendonitis in her left wrist. Parker said Coffee was listed as day-to-day.
For varsity games to count this season, all games must be played to 25 points. Previously, with high school rally scoring, the first two games were to 25 and the third went to 15. The KSHSAA, however, changed that rule for this season.