By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
Three of the eight Class 2A state volleyball qualifying teams in 2020 won championships this fall. Last year, Smith Center defeated Spearville in the state quarterfinals. Then, Olathe Heritage Christian Academy beat SC in the 2A title.
This fall, HCA bumped to 3A and captured the crown. Smith Center won 2A. Spearville moved down to Class 1A, Division I and earned the volleyball championship. The Lancers have consistently had strong years with 12th year coach Syble Thompson, who has coached in southwest Kansas for many seasons. It marked the first-ever state volleyball titles for Smith Center and Spearville.
On Tuesday, Spearville continued its postseason accolades through the Kansas Volleyball Association. The Lancers completed a 37-7 record, including a 5-0 state mark at United Wireless Arena in Dodge City.
Thompson picked up classification coach of the year honors. Kendra Meyer served as the assistant. Junior 5-foot-10 outside hitter Cameron Offerle earned player of the year. Junior 5-9 outside hitter Tawney Krominga was a first team selection. Krominga came back from an ACL tear with surgery on Jan. 25.
As expected, HCA sophomore Rachel Van Gorp and HCA coach Tom Slaughter swept the 3A honors, and Smith Center’s Tallon Rentschler and coach Nick Linn accomplished the feat in 2A.
Earlier this month, the state all-tournament teams featured four Lancers: Krominga, Offerle, 5-foot-3 senior setter Taelor Rucker and 5-11 senior opposite Anna Stein. Offerle is a two-time state all-tournament selection.
Spearville qualified for state in ’09 and picked up final four showings in ’11, ’13, ’14 and ’15. The Lancers took second to Centralia in 1A in 2018. In ’19, the Lancers posted a 38-4 mark and 2A runner-up showing to Wabaunsee. Last year, Spearville opened with 21 straight wins and eventually took the state quarterfinal state loss at SC.
This year, Spearville was ranked sixth in the final poll behind Centralia, Pretty Prairie, Little River, Victoria, and SPIAA league rival Kiowa County. Spearville beat KC in the sub-state championship game after it dropped the first set.
At state, Spearville edged Centralia, 13-25, 25-21, 25-21 in a key pool play match.
Then, the Lancers defeated Little River, 25-19, 25-23, and held off Burlingame: 19-25, 25-12, 25-16.
In the semifinals Saturday, Spearville beat Victoria, 25-14, 25-21. For the championship, Spearville defeated Pretty Prairie, 25-10, 24-26, 25-19.
This year, Spearville had to replace multi-sport standout Alissa Heskamp, an honorable mention all-state libero in 2020. In 2020, Heskamp, Krominga and Offerle were first team all-league selections. Stein was an honorable mention pick. Offerle started as a freshman, too.
This season, Offerle, Krominga and Stein were each first team all-league at outside hitter. Rucker collected second team setter.