Tonganoxie High volleyball battles to end at state tournament
The Tonganoxie High volleyball team seemed in prime position to start off state with a victory for a second consecutive year.
THS led, 9-4, early in the third and final set against No. 5 Paola in the match’s third set.
Paola, though, went on a 6-1 run, tying the game at 10.
The teams would be tied again four more times, but at 14 all, the Panthers put tougher a push that THS just couldn’t overcome. Paola had its largest lead at four on a few occasions, with THS getting within two at 21-19.
Despite a resounding THS kill on that point, THS couldn’t keep the momentum going and fell, 25-21.
Tonganoxie led early in its second match against top-seeded Abilene, but the Cowgirls proved to be too much, getting the first set, 25-19.
Abilene found its groove quicker in the second match and won, 25-13.
Its final match Friday came against No. 8 Bishop Miege, which had won three consecutive state titles.
The Roeland Park private school was just 11-28 entering state as the No. 8 seed, but went 3-0 in pool play and eventually finished up as runner up Saturday.
Miege (16-28) finished off THS in two sets and ended the Chieftains’ season at 23-16.
“I thought we played really well against Paola the first match of the day,” THS coach Tiffany Parker said. “I thought we executed the game plan and it was a great match. Paola is a good team.
“I feel like we were everywhere. Defensively, there was no ball that dropped without effort.”
That meant multiple players were hustling after loose balls, Parker said.
“I thought they competed well. We had people show up for the showdown.”
No. 4 Paola went on to take fourth after losing to No. 2 Rose Hill in the state semifinals.
“We lost that match and it took some wind out of our sails,” Parker said, noting the team still played with great effort as the day went on.
“We just seemed to be a little flat,” Parker said.
The Chieftains also were without libero Emily Hummelgaard against Abilene and Bishop Miege. The senior suffered a head injury during the Paola match.
While Rose Hill got past Paola, 25-17, 25-20, in on semifinal match, Miege defeated Andover Central, 25-15, 25-17, in the other. Andover won the consolation match, 29-27, 25-21, against Paola before Rose Hill outlasted, 25-22, 25-20, in the championship match.
“We had kids today who never gave up and that’s what you want at the state tournament,” Parker said. “You don’t want kids who are scared.”
THS had four seniors play in their final volleyball matches as Chieftains: Taylor Lee, Nikki Tallent, Mykah Wingerter and Hummelgaard.
“They bring such great character to our team and such great expectations,” Parker said.
“I could come to practice and know they are ready. Those four had a mission to get here.”