Chieftains win sub-state, advance to Salina
The six-year drought is over.
For six straight years, the Tonganoxie High volleyball team went home after it played in the sub-state championship game. On Saturday on their home court, the Chieftains booked themselves a ticket 150 miles west on Interstate 70 to Salina -- the site of the 2007 Class 4A state volleyball tournament on Oct. 26-27.
"I see these girls back here who have graduated and they come and watch us with tears in their eyes of joy," senior Sami Franiuk said. "I play for them. I play for the girls who didn't have the chance to hold this plaque. I'm going to hold this until we win state, then I'll replace it with a state one."
Tonganoxie entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed, but its 25-11 record was a bit deceiving. A difficult regular-season schedule, which featured matches against many Class 5A and 6A opponents, prepared the Chieftains for what they did to the 4A competition on Saturday.
What they did was simply dominate the tournament.
Tonganoxie defeated Basehor-Linwood in the first round, 25-18 and 25-10. The second game was rarely in question.
THS then faced No.1-seeded Holton in the semifinals. The Wildcats knocked the Chieftains out of sub-state last season at Holton's gymnasium.
Different year, different outcome.
Tonganoxie won a close first game, 25-23, then slammed the door on Holton, 25-16.
"We have the ultimate respect for Holton, their program and the way that they play," THS co-coach Brandon Parker said. "In a postseason setting, if you can defeat a team like that, you feel good about it because they're well-coached and they're a great team."
Tonganoxie kept its momentum rolling through the championship match against No. 2-seeded Jefferson West. The Chieftains owned the match and easily won in two games, 25-9 and 25-11.
"It just seemed like our kids were like, 'This is our court and we are winning sub-state with all these people here,'" THS co-coach Tiffany Parker said. "They did their jobs perfectly. If you do your job, it kind of works like a machine. We were a machine tonight."
Franiuk and fellow senior Tracie Hileman provided crowd-pleasing spikes throughout the tournament, particularly in the finals. Franiuk pounded the sub-state winning point past the Jefferson West defense.
Game, match and tournament over.
"All season long, we've really been trying to get to that great point," Tiffany Parker said. "We've been bordering on that great mark and we hit great tonight. Now we need to put a couple of exclamation marks next to it."
Check Wednesday's edition of The Mirror for the full story.
State tournament bracket and seeding
Tonganoxie will enter the state tournament as the No. 8 seed. Here are seeds and times for the tournament, located at the Bicentennial Center in Salina.
Friday, Oct. 26 - Pool 1 (top bracket) - Court A
3:30 p.m. - No. 1 Lenexa-St. James Academy (41-0) vs. No. 8 Tonganoxie (28-11)
4:30 p.m. - No. 4 Colby (34-5) vs. No. 5 Clearwater (33-7)
5:30 p.m. - Lenexa-St. James Academy vs. Clearwater
6:30 p.m. - Colby vs. Tonganoxie
7:30 p.m. - Lenexa-St. James Academy vs. Colby
8:30 p.m. Clearwater vs. Tonganoxie
Friday, Oct. 26 - Pool 2 (bottom bracket) - Court B
3:30 p.m. - No. 2 Altamont-Labette County (35-5) vs. No. 7 Paola (34-8)
4:30 p.m. - No. 3 Topeka-Hayden (34-5) vs. No. 6 Andover (31-7)
5:30 p.m. - Altamont-Labette County vs. Andover
6:30 p.m. - Topeka-Hayden vs. Paola
7:30 p.m. - Altamont-Labette County vs. Topeka-Hayden
8:30 p.m. - Andover vs. Paola
The semifinals and championship matches will take place Saturday, Oct. 27. The semifinals start at 2 p.m.
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