THS volleyball advances to semifinals
Salina Before the Tonganoxie High volleyball team's final match Friday night, Liz Baska overheard mumblings from Clearwater players. The subject of the chatter wasn't exactly friendly.
"Word was that they were talking a little smack -- they said that (senior) Sami (Franiuk) was (our) only really good hitter and everyone else was just OK," Baska said. "It got us fired up."
It showed on the court of the Salina Bicentennial Center. Tonganoxie defeated Clearwater, 25-23 and 25-21, in the final pool play match of the Kansas Class 4A state tournament. The Chieftains will advance to the semifinals and face the Topeka-Hayden Wildcats at 2 p.m. today.
Tonganoxie's match against Clearwater was an instant volleyball classic. Both teams entered the match with 1-1 pool play records. Terms were simple: Win and advance to Day 2. Lose and go home.
"I had more nerves in me than ever," senior Shannon Carlin said. "It's amazing. I'm glad we're not riding on a bus home in the morning. This is our last chance. It's all for one, one for all. Go out and do it and get it done."
After winning a close first game by two points, Tonganoxie trailed, 15-10, in the second game. THS co-coach Brandon Parker immediately called a timeout.
"It was time to put up or shut up," Parker said. "We're going to decide as a team if we were going to be strong enough to get this done. I challenged them and (co-coach) Tiffany (Parker) challenged them. We're at that point. We're fighting for our lives to get in the semifinals."
Apparently, the talk worked. After the timeout, the Chieftains had four straight kills by four different players to cut the lead to one. Carlin, Baska, Franiuk and junior Chrissy Jeannin produced the points.
Tonganoxie then tied the game at 17 and never trailed again.
"Tonganoxie does not give up," Carlin said. "Everyone had the will to do it. We said, 'There's no way Clearwater is stomping over us.' We had to come out and prove to them that we're Tonganoxie."
The Chieftains (30-12) finished pool play with a 2-1 record. THS defeated Colby, 25-16 and 25-14, but lost against St. James Academy (Lenexa), 25-22 and 25-19.
Tonganoxie is participating in the state tournament for the first time since 1993, and the fourth time in school history. The highest the Chieftains have ever finished at the state tournament was fourth. There are only four teams left in this year's tournament.
"We're definitely pushing for it all," Baska said. "We won't settle for anything less."
Check back to tonganoxie.com around 3:30 p.m. Saturday to read live game updates from the semifinals.
Match 1 - St. James Academy (Lenexa)
The Tonganoxie High volleyball team lost its first match of the day, 25-22 and 25-19, against St. James.
St. James is now 44-0 on the season for a reason. The top-seeded Thunder gave the Chieftains numerous looks around the net. St. James is tall around the net as well and utilized several different formations to set up kills.
In the first game, Tonganoxie led, 2-0, but that's the only lead it saw all match. The first game was extremely close, but St. James always seemed to keep at least a two-point cushion. Tonganoxie trailed 16-14 and 20-17 before losing game one.
St. James controlled game two early, and led the match, 19-12. The Chieftains scored five unanswered points to cut the defecit to 19-17. Highlights of the THS run included a Baska spike near the center of the net and a service ace by Franiuk.
Be sure to check out extra THS volleyball action from Salina on the Chieftans volleyball blog.