Can’t touch this
Baska celebrates birthday with win
Before Liz Baska warmed up for the Tonganoxie volleyball team's home opener, she heard someone yelling her name from the student section.
It was nearing the time for warm-ups against Baldwin High, a time to be serious. But as Baska turned around, the senior couldn't help but crack a smile after reading the sign in the stands.
"Happy 18th birthday, Liz!" the sign read.
The sign proved to be good luck. The Chieftains responded with a three-game sweep against Baldwin, 25-4, 25-16 and 25-18 in their home opener Sept. 5.
After the victory, THS players, coaches, family and friends sang "Happy Birthday" to Baska at the middle of the court.
"I'm pretty much loving it," Baska said. "I had stuff all over my locker when I went to school today, like brownies, posters and cards. My mom put my volleyball jersey up on my locker with a picture of me when I was a baby."
She also received words of encouragement from her teammates.
"When we went out there, we said, 'Liz, it's your birthday. We might as well win for you,'" senior Sami Franiuk said. "'Let's get out there and take it.'"
In game one, Tonganoxie jumped out to an 11-2 lead. Baldwin called timeout. That wasn't the only time BHS would put the match on pause.
After the Chieftains put away four more consecutive points to take a 15-2 lead, the Bulldogs called another timeout. There was roughly three minutes in between BHS timeouts.
Chemistry clearly was strong on the Chieftains side of the net.
"We have this new thing this year where after every play, no matter what, we come in and huddle real quick," Baska said. "We started it at the Kansas Classic at the end of July. The first couple games were pretty rocky, so everyone was like, 'We can't play like this or else we're going to get our butts kicked.' We just decided we have to cheer each other up and keep each other going."
Effective serving didn't hurt Tonganoxie, either. When Franiuk served, she had Baldwin defenders constantly guessing where her topspin jump serve would land. The Bulldogs back row players were like confused baseball players when they see a curve ball with extreme movement.
Franiuk had seven service aces.
"That ball drops on you pretty quick and kind of throws you off," THS co-coach Brandon Parker said. "She's done a good job the past two nights of making it difficult for the opponent to get into a system."
After the match, Franiuk's entire right arm was wrapped in ice. She wasn't injured. It's just standard procedure.
"When I jump up, I actually snap my wrist on top of the ball giving it that top spin and that's what sends it down, whereas a float serve, for example, stays afloat," Franiuk explained. "It's really progressed over these last few years."
Tonganoxie improved to 2-0 on the season. As for Baska, she said she didn't have any specific plans for her birthday after the match.
"I'm just happy my parents got me text messaging, which I was really excited about," Baska said, laughing.
Tonganoxie next match was Tuesday night when it participated in a triangular against Paola and De Soto. The match continued past The Mirror's press time. Check www.tonganoxiemirror.com today for results and post-match reactions.