By CONOR NICHOLL
Last season, Scott City opened with a pair of wins on August 28 versus Sharon Springs and Oakley. The next day, SC struggled at the eight-team Hays High tournament. In pool play, Scott City defeated Salina Central and lost to Bucklin and Hays High. SC did not qualify for a top-four finish and winner’s bracket. Scott City eventually finished 22-16.
The Beavers had 10 girls on varsity: four seniors and six juniors. The top-two hitters were both juniors. Kennedy Holstein paced with 233 kills, and 6-foot Ella Rumford was second at 220. As well, Brooklynne Zielke had 109 kills, and Payton Goodman finished with 39 in spot time. Holstein easily paced with 61 assists.
The top-three in digs were juniors with libero Amber Latta (433), Alli Patton (332) and Holstein (296). Rumford and Holstein were both second team all-GWAC selections, and Latta earned honorable mention honors. She was all-conference in volleyball, basketball and softball. Holstein especially helped SC tie for ninth in 3A track in the spring.
Lauren Robinson coached the senior group in seventh grade and took over as head high school coach this fall.
On Friday, SC again opened the season with two wins versus Oakley and Wallace County.
On Saturday, Scott City’s veteran group of six seniors showed marked improvement at the season-opening Hays tournament. SC finished runner-up in the eight-team field. The Beavers defeated Thomas More Prep-Marian, which is ranked third in Class 3A and won the tournament last year. Scott City is currently not ranked in the top-10. Class 6A Olathe West, paced by 6-foot-4 junior Ava TeStrake, a Creighton commit, beat SC in three sets in the championship.
Scott City finished 3-2 for its best finish in the three-year history of the tournament. SC had been 1-3 in the last four matchups with TMP.
“Absolutely, I think it’s something to build on,” Robinson said. “I think that their experience played a part in their success today, and I hope it shows that we can be competitive with any team that we face this year.”
Scott City lost to Salina South before wins against Hays High and Oakley. TMP defeated Olathe West in pool play in three sets. In the semifinals, SC earned the upset versus TMP. Olathe West beat Salina South in the other final.
“These girls spend time with each other off the court, on the court,” Robinson said. “And I think volleyball is a game of momentum, and we had the momentum the majority of the time against TMP, and I think that contributed a lot to our success against them, was just the camaraderie with those six seniors we have together.”
Five of the six seniors are returning starters. Latta is a three-sport athlete. She picked up second team all-GWAC in basketball. For softball, Scott City and Holcomb tied for the league crown. Latta was first team all-league infield.
“She is willing to sacrifice her body for whatever it takes for the team,” Robinson said. “And that’s why we have her in that position is because she is willing to get down and dirty and not give up on any ball. … She is kind of our sparkplug for our team right now.”
Rumford was the lone Beaver to earn a spot on the 10-player all-tournament team.
Robinson said Goodman, the only returning non-senior starter, has “done a good job.” Junior Priscilla Peregrino, a talented track athlete, was a key player this weekend.
“This tournament, blockers everywhere – and impressive blockers at that – have several kills in each set,” Robinson said of Goodman. “I think that is a huge testament to her work ethic.”