Weskan, Hoxie win sub-state championships

The Class 1A Northwest Sub-State Volleyball Tournament was held at Western Plains High School in Ransom, Kan., on Saturday. A total of eight sub-states were held throughout the state.

The day’s competition was split into two separate sub-states. The Weskan Coyotes and the Hoxie Indians came away with berths to the State Volleyball Tournament, which is being held Oct. 30-31 at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan.

The first sub-state had Natoma, Grainfield-Wheatland-Grinnell, Sylvan Grove and Weskan battling.

Weskan entered the tournament as a No. 6 seed and defeated No. 3-seed Sylvan Grove Mustangs in a two-set upset, but the wins weren’t easy.

In the first set of the match, Sylvan Grove had an early lead, but Weskan came back and squeaked out a 25-22 victory.

Neither team played sharp volleyball during the second set, but Weskan had momentum from the first win, and the team’s strong hitting and tough spikes carried them to a 25-15 victory and put them into the championship match against the No. 7-seed Grainfield-Wheatland-Grinnell Thunderhawks.

The Thunderhawks made it to the prize-round of the sub-state by downing the No. 2-seed Natoma Tigers in two sets.

Natoma’s upset loss was start with a back-and-forth defeat. The first set could have easily gone to either team, but Wheatland pulled it out 25-20.

The second set, however, saw Wheatland grab control early and maintain it for the duration. Natoma’s 5-foot-9 junior Bailey Pfortmiller was visibly frustrated that she couldn’t get her spikes down.

The Tigers did make a 7-0 run to attempt to catch the Thunderhawks, but the damage was done. Wheatland won 25-17.

This set up the championship bout between Wheatland and Weskan.

In true championship fashion, the match went to three sets.

For the first set, Wheatland came out strong having been able to rest during the Sylvan Grove and Weskan match.

The Thunderhawks put down laser-beam-precise spikes and played with intensity.

Weskan also fought hard, but five missed serves compared to Wheatland’s one missed serve hurt the Coyotes.

Wheatland won 25-17.

Weskan woke up for the second set, though.

The Coyotes took control early and made perfect sets and sold spikes that the Thunderhawks couldn’t defend against.

Weskan tied the match by wining the second set 25-16.

And so it came down to the final set.

Weskan dominated Wheatland, earning 9 unanswered points at one point during the set.

Wheatland couldn’t defend the Coyote offense, lead by 5-foot-10 senior Payton Walker.

When the dust settled, Weskan had thumped Wheatland 25-14 to earn state playoff berth.

The second sub-state had Sharon Springs-Wallace County, Almena-Northern Valley, Hoxie and Wilson all squaring off.

Before Hoxie made it to the championship match, the No. 4-seed Indians had to get past the No. 5-seed Wilson Dragons.

In the first set, it looked like Hoxie would be heading home after two. The Indians could get thing going and didn’t play as a cohesive unit.

Combine that with the fact Wilson couldn’t miss and had almost zero miscommunications, it wasn’t surprising when the Dragons won 25-21, despite Hoxie’s late resurgence that was simply too little too late.

Hoxie didn’t get down on themselves though and entered the second set ready to play volleyball.

Hoxie quickly jumped out to a 19-1 lead, holding Wilson to just one serve during that stretch of play.

The Wilson Dragons couldn’t do anything with the ball. They self-destructed and only got to serve the ball seven times as Hoxie defeat them 25-8.

The final set was close. Both teams played well, but Wilson couldn’t hold on down the stretch.

Hoxie won 25-20, which put them in the championship round.

The Indians faced the No. 1-seed Sharon Springs Wildcats.

The Wildcats got to the end by defeating the Northern Valley Huskies in two sets.

In the first set, Northern Valley jumped out to an early lead, but Sharon Springs made up the deficit.

The set went back and forth, with both teams hitting hard. Northern Valley had several miscommunications that ultimately led to the loss of 25-22.

Seeing victory within their grasp, the Wildcats fought hard again.

Northern Valley had glimmers of hope for holding on thanks to impressive spikes from 6-foot senior Alison Cole, but the Huskies couldn’t close it out.

Sharon Springs won 25-22 again.

The stage was set.

Sharon Springs versus Hoxie for the chance to play at state.

Going into the match, Sharon Springs was the clear favorite, and they showed it during the first set, winning 26-24.

Both teams played well and it could have gone either way.

Not liking the taste of defeat served up by the Wildcats, Hoxie came out with guns blazing, led by the tenacity of 5-foot-5 junior Shaylinn Kaus.

Sharon Springs communicated well on the court, but they let Hoxie get too far ahead and couldn’t lift themselves out of the hole they dug.

Hoxie won the set 25-22.

Tied at one, both Sharon Springs and Hoxie were poised to become state-bound.

The third set was a close battle and volleyed back and forth.

In the end, though, Hoxie, once again led by Kaus, wanted it more and played with more heart.

Hoxie defeated Sharon Springs 25-22 to earn its berth to the state volleyball tournament.

Throughout the day of volleyball, the crowd was loud and involved, keeping the spirit in the Western Plains High School gym electric.

The state tournament is sure to carry the same atmosphere.

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My name is Todd Vogts. I like the color green, riding my motorcycle, and being with my family and friends. A good book is a perfect companion for me any time, and I'm an author and journalist. Visit my website at www.toddvogts.com and follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/toddvogts.