THS volleyball nears end of long grind
Chieftains place sixth at home tournament
Olathe East (6-0)
Great Bend (5-1)
Shawnee Mission NW (4-2)
Bishop Ward (1-4)
Bonner Springs (0-5)
Julianne Jackson (BON)
Brette Moore (OTT)
Tinaris Watson (PIP)
Tatum Graves (SMNW)
Abby Born (SMNW)
Jill Starling (GAR)
Brenna Haines (GB)
Tarynn Stueder (GB)
Kelli Kalinoski (OE)
Marissa Round (OE)
Best defensive player
Marissa Martin (TON)
Most valuable player
Lindsey Benson (OE)
The ever-important sub-state volleyball tournament is still more than three weeks away, but Tonganoxie High has spent most of the last week conditioning itself for nearly any tournament scenario in the book.
The Chieftains played 10 matches over the last six days, highlighted by their annual home invitational Saturday. Just two days removed from home wins against Jeff West and Pleasant Ridge, THS placed sixth out of 10 teams, going 2-3 in tournament play.
A 2-2 showing in pool play pitted THS against Kaw Valley League opponent Piper in the fifth-place match. The teams played even most of the way, but the Pirates eked out a three-set win, 28-30, 25-20, 25-19.
Piper grabbed a 7-1 lead early in the first set and later stretched its lead to 16-6, but the Chieftains, who won their final four sets of pool play, began to slowly chip away at the deficit. They eventually drew even at 23-23 and, five set points later, scored three in a row to take a 1-0 lead. The Pirates battled back, though, winning the final two sets to claim the match.
“It had been a long day for both of us,” coach Tiffany Parker said. “We had played three matches in a row, then had another match after a little break, so we had to try to work together and compete together. Both teams, I felt, did that.
“We kind of dug ourselves into a hole and tried to come back, we just couldn’t make it.”
Parker’s squad got off to a rough start in pool play, falling to Class 6A Shawnee Mission Northwest and 5A Great Bend in straight sets.
An 0-3 start looked likely when the Chieftains dropped their opening set to Eudora, 26-24, but they regained their composure to win the next two, 25-23, 25-22. That momentum carried over to their pool play finale against Bonner Springs, which they won in straight sets, 25-22, 25-20, setting up the fifth-place bout with Piper.
“We knew we only had one game in bracket play,” senior Marissa Martin said. “We wanted it to be for a higher place, and you have to win matches to do that. That’s what turned it around for us. We knew going into the Eudora game that we had a break, so we just tried to leave it all out there.”
Martin led the Chieftains for the duration of the tournament, and her efforts were rewarded when she was named the tournament’s best defensive player. She was the only THS player selected to the all-tournament team.
“That girl keeps us in matches. She is one of our biggest assets,” Parker said of the senior libero. “She doesn’t necessarily get kills for us, but she’s the most excited when we get kills. She is a great kid, and I hope her passion can kind of seep into our other players.”
Olathe East (6A) defeated Great Bend in the championship match. The Eagles didn’t lose a set in six tournament matches.
THS got Sunday off, but returned to the grind Monday for a home triangular against Holton and Kansas City Christian. The Chieftains fell to Holton in three sets, 25-19, 11-25, 17-25, then swept KCC, 25-8, 25-12. They'll be back in action Tuesday when they host Lansing for a Kaw Valley League clash. After that, they won’t be back on the court again until they travel Monday to KC Washington.