By CONOR NICHOLL
Sports In Kansas takes a look at every sub-state in Kansas. All sub-states will occur Saturday unless otherwise noted. SIK notes key matchups, winning streaks, top players and breakdowns. Final Individual numbers will be released Friday morning. All records from KSHSAA site, unless otherwise noted. Rankings reflect current Kansas Volleyball Association poll released Wednesday night.
Class 6A (four team pods; some with play-in matches)
No. 1 Blue Valley North (31-2) has a pool with no other winning records. BVN is ranked second by the Kansas coaches. North has won 18 matches in a row. Freshman Logan Parks has 266 kills and a .306 attack percentage. Three seniors, Jasmine Dulan, Clara Benskin, and Morgan Debow, all have between 129 and 198 kills. Dulan is an outstanding server with 49 aces and 92 serving percentage. Junior Nora Carlsen has 241 digs, and Dulan has 208. Debow has committed to University of Nebraska-Omaha.
No. 2 Shawnee Mission Northwest (29-8) was featured earlier this fall on Sports In Kansas and has continued its success. SMNW is ranked fourth. Northwest carries a .290 attack average. Senior Ella Mackiewicz has delivered 211 kills with a .338 average. Junior Vix Vilott has 332 kills for a .313 average. Junior Elinor Engel has 285 kills with a .353 average. Mackiewicz has signed with University of Wisconsin-Plattevile for basketball and track.
No. 3 Blue Valley West (26-8) will have Blue Valley (17-14) and perennial contender Gardner-Edgerton (15-18) in the same pod. Blue Valley West is ranked third. Blue Valley West is the defending state champion, and BV won the 2019 title. West bested Blue Valley in four sets.
No. 4 Olathe Northwest (22-10) is part of a group that could yield an upset. No. 5 Blue Valley Northwest (21-14) and No. 12 Olathe West (14-19) will match up in the first round. Northwest, a final four team last fall, is ranked sixth in 6A. Olathe Northwest was the state runner-up last year. Blue Valley Northwest and Olathe Northwest did not play each other. Like last year, O. Northwest gets nearly 100 percent of its production from non-seniors. Sophomore Skyler Pierce is an exceptional athlete with 161 kills and a .264 average in the team’s latest statistical release. Sophomore Jillian Huckabey is also a standout player.
No. 1 seed Washburn Rural (36-0) is the significant favorite to reach state and the likely favorite to win the 6A title. Rural features a bevy of experience, especially Brooklyn DeLeye, who has committed to Kentucky, the reigning Division I national champions. Rural is ranked No. 1 in 6A. Rural finished third last season.
No. 2 Wichita Northwest (37-1) has enjoyed a breakout year and has only lost to Washburn Rural. Northwest won the City League title and is ranked fifth in 6A. First-year coach Emily Hiebert enjoyed a remarkable career as a Wichita State University setter, including twice earning conference setter of the year honors.
No. 3 Hutchinson (29-5 by KSHSAA; currently 31-5) has also had a big uptick in victories this fall. The Salthawks are ranked eighth. Junior Mya Thompson has 216 kills, and junior Maliyah Johnson had 302 kills with a .259 average. Freshman Grace Posch has 256 digs. Senior Kaitlin Yoder has 738 assists. In the last three years, Yoder has more than 1,600 assists and 500 digs. Hutchinson was 20-14 last year.
No. 4 Lawrence Free State (22-9) and No. 5 Derby (24-11) should face off in a likely close sub-state championship game. Free State is ranked seventh, and Derby tenth.
Class 5A (four team pods; some with play-in matches)
East – East is loaded with elite teams. The top-five teams in the 5A rankings are all on the East.
No. 1 Lansing (31-1) lost its season-opening contest to St. Thomas Aquinas and has won all of its matches since. Lansing is ranked second in 5A. Last season, Aquinas won the championship, and Lansing was second. Second-year Lansing coach Lindsay Zych has her bevy of experienced players, including its big senior group of setter Kaitlin Bishop, libero Kamryn Farris, hitters Iyannah Jackson, Mackenzie Manthe and Olivia Mae van der Werff, and defensive specialist Kenzie Moburg. The Lions have won 72 of a possible 78 sets. Jackson has consistently led Kansas in hitting percentage at .471. Lansing won the United Kansas Conference. Bishop is headed to Division II University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Moburg to UMKC.
No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas (31-3) is the significant favorite from its sub-state. The defending 5A champions are loaded with Division I signings. Aquinas is ranked No. 1 in 5A. Aquinas has not lost to a Kansas team. Senior Ava Martin (360 kills) has committed to Creighton. Junior Betsy Goodenow has committed to Yale. Senior 5-foot-10 middle hitter Mikayla Benanti has committed to Division I University of North Florida for beach volleyball. Benanti paces with 69 blocks. Benanti has served at a team-high 98 serve rate.
No. 3 Spring Hill (27-6) has quietly put together another nice year under coach Erica Book, a former All-American libero at Washburn. Spring Hill is ranked third. No. 6 seed Basehor-Linwood (23-9) is also a top-10 ranked team. SH has won 12 in a row. Basehor-Linwood beat Spring Hill in three sets on Sept. 11. Six-foot-2 Kate Frakes has 225 kills and a .376 hitting average, and senior Rylee Serpan is at 347 kills with a .381 average. Serpan has committed to Kansas Wesleyan volleyball. B-L junior Mila Seaton has 371 kills and already set the school record for single season kills.
No. 4 Mill Valley (29-7) and No. 5 St. James Academy (24-9) should match up in a key contest. SJA, generally nationally ranked, has long success with coach Nancy Dorsey. SJA is ranked fourth, Mill Valley fifth. St. James is 14-0 all-time against Mill Valley. Rachel Ziesman has 186 kills and a .237 hitting percentage. Senior Lauren Wheeler has 110 kills. Sophomore Mya Bolton has 279 digs.
West – 5A West is much deeper than the East.
No. 1 Emporia (24-7) features 6-foot-2 setter Grace Xu. This season, Xu has 681 assists and 84 kills with a .479 attack percentage. No. 8 Andover (19-14) and No. 9 Hays High (18-15 by KSHSAA; currently 18-18) both have had nice seasons for its programs. This is a relatively wide-open sub-state. Emporia was 17-10 last year after three straight sub-.500 seasons.
Emporia just entered the rankings this week at No. 10. Hays High has had a sizable turnaround with second-year coach Shannon Funk. The Indians won the Western Athletic Conference for the first time since 1994. Senior Ella Voth paces with 161 kills, and junior Carly Lang has 146 kills with 305 digs. Senior Kamree Leiker has 334 digs.
No. 2 Maize South (26-8 by KSHSAA; currently 28-8) has a pool with No. 7 Andover Central (24-13) and No. 10 Great Bend (18-15). Maize South is ranked sixth. Maize South finished fourth in 5A last year. The Mavericks are 2-0 against Andover Central this year with a two-set win on Aug. 28 and a three-set victory on Sept. 9.
All four teams could come out of the Topeka West sub-state. No. 3 Topeka West (27-9) will face No. 14 Valley Center (13-20). No. 6 Bishop Carroll (23-12) plays No. 11 Newton (15-17). None of these squads are ranked. BC was third in 5A in 2020.
Coach Melissa Segovia, who led Rose Hill to a state title, has started the turnaround with the Hornets. Junior libero Emma Bond is a solid defensive player with a calm demeanor and strong volleyball knowledge. She paces VC in serve receive and digs. Senior middle Anna Eldridge, who transferred from nearby Peabody-Burns before last season, is first in blocks and second in hitting. She is a three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track. Overall, VC has five seniors: Cheyenne Blackwood, Bowen, Eldridge, Kambry Kirk and Heidi Meyer. All except Eldridge are four-year players.
No. 4 Goddard-Eisenhower (23-9) will likely have to contend with No. 5 Topeka Seaman (23-10).
Class 4A (four team pods; some with play-in matches)
A somewhat unusual situation has occurred in the Labette County sub-state. No. 1 Labette County (33-3) could face No. 17 Topeka Hayden (6-26) in the first round if Hayden wins its play-in game. LC is ranked ninth in 4A. Hayden has most recently won state titles in ’15, ’16, ’17 and ’19. Anna Dean is a standout player for Labette County.
No. 2 Baldwin (25-3) has been one of Kansas’ biggest surprises. Traditional power Louisburg is seeded seventh (18-16) and will play improved No. 10 Parsons (16-20). Baldwin is ranked third, Louisburg eighth. However, Louisburg is 17-1 in the last 18 matches versus Baldwin, including a 3-2 victory on Sept. 28. Baldwin has not beaten Louisburg in 11 years.
No. 3 Fort Scott (26-8) will likely face No. 6 Ottawa (18-16) in the championship. Ottawa was a Class 4A Final Four squad last season when it took third. FS is unranked, and Ottawa is ranked sixth. Ottawa has won six in a row. Ottawa and Fort Scott have not played volleyball against each other in 14 years.
The Atchison sub-state will likely have an upset by record. No. 4 Atchison (21-9) gets No. 13 Bishop Miege (12-23). No. 5 Paola (22-14) is also in the pool. Paola has been ranked throughout the year. Miege, the defending 4A champions, has continued to play its brutal schedule of 5/6A Eastern Kansas League schools. Miege finished 22-11 last season, though graduated 4A Volleyball and Basketball Player of the Year Payton Verhulst, who is now playing basketball at Louisville.
No. 1 Andale (32-2 by KSHSAA; currently 34-2) has been atop the rankings throughout the fall as it looks for its first-ever state title. Andale is ranked first in 4A. Andale is the back-to-back 4A state runner-up. Kaylie Bergkamp has done an exceptional job as Andale’s volleyball coach and has earned national honors for top up-and-coming coaches. Junior McKenzie Fairchild has continued the athletic brilliance in her family. A returning first team all-state player, she has 340 kills, 262 digs and a .303 average, all team-highs.
No. 2 McPherson (29-6) has hitter Rhian Swanson, a KU commit, and setter Brette Doile, who has more than 2,500 career assists. McPherson is ranked second. The Bullpups were fourth in 4A in 2020. McPherson has won 11 in a row. Swanson has 584 kills and a .336 average.
No. 3 Circle (29-6 by KSHSAA; currently 31-6) will have No. 6 Clearwater (23-10) in its pool. Circle is ranked fourth in 4A. Clearwater setter Brooke Berlin recently had the first double-double of her career. Circle has won five straight versus Clearwater, including a win this season.
No. 4 Clay Center (23-5) should face No. 5 Augusta (24-9) in a possible very close match. Augusta has been one of Kansas’ biggest turnarounds this fall under first-year coach Kynnedy Myers, a former standout at Rose Hill and UMKC. Clay Center is fifth, and Augusta has been ranked as high as sixth. Augusta owns a win against McPherson. The Orioles have its senior-heavy group paces by Tommie Schaffner, Sydney Scott and libero Avery Riedel.
No. 1 Riverton headlines at 35-3, though No. 2 Girard (30-7) and No. 3 Frontenac (30-8) are expected to also play a role. Riverton, which is ranked ninth. Riverton features junior Jacy Thomasson, who has a Pittsburg State offer, 490 kills and a .431 average this year. Thomasson is one of Kansas’ best players. The 5-foot-10 Thomasson has 1,374 career kills and a .385 hitting percentage. Riverton beat Girard in two sets on Sept. 21, and Frontenac in three sets on Oct. 19. Senior Heather Arnett and junior Hattie Pyle have paced the Raiders.
No. 1 Smoky Valley (34-3) is the defending state runner-up and features Abby Rose, who is the reigning 3A Player of the Year. No. 2 Trinity Academy (29-5) and No. 3 Council Grove (27-6) are contenders, along with traditional power No. 4 Hesston (21-15). Smoky Valley is ranked second, and Trinity Academy is eighth. Trinity jumped into the poll this week.
No. 1 Eureka (32-1) is the definite favorite, though could face No. 4 Prairie View (22-10) in the semifinals. PV has delivered a nice turnaround year. No. 2 Humboldt (28-8) is also a contender. Eureka is ranked tenth and recently took its first defeat.
This is one of the state’s most compelling sub-states and is full of GWAC schools that face each other throughout the year. No. 1 Goodland (34-3), No. 2 Holcomb (34-5) and No. 3 Scott City (28-9) have seen each other multiple times. Goodland is ranked sixth, and Holcomb has been ranked this year. All three teams have been featured on SIK this fall. Goodland won the GWAC title last week. The Cowgirls were fourth in 3A in 2020.
No. 1 Cheney (34-2) and No. 2 Nickerson (28-10) are expected to match up in a highly compelling final with star power on both sides. This should be one of the best sub-state finals for all classes. Cheney is ranked first, and Nickerson was ranked in 4A before it dropped down in re-classification. First-year Nickerson coach Payton Scheer is a Cheney graduate. Cheney has senior Olivia Albers and Brooklyn Wewe, junior Campbell Hague, junior Anna Martin and sophomore Alex Bittner. Albers has 195 kills and a .268 average. Nickerson is loaded, especially with junior Ava Jones and junior setter Josie McLean.
No. 1 Olathe Heritage Christian Academy (32-2) moved up after it won the 2A crown last year. No. 2 West Franklin (29-8) and No. 3 Silver Lake (27-8) will be contenders, too. HCA is ranked third, and Silver Lake is seventh. HCA has its standout duo of Rachel Van Gorp and Cy Rae Campbell.
This is also a very deep sub-state full of primarily Beloit/Mid-Continent League schools that see each other frequently. No. 1 Beloit (29-7), No. 2 Thomas More Prep-Marian (26-10) and No. 3 Phillipsburg (24-12) highlight. Beloit senior setter Makenzie Travis went over 2,000 career assists. TMP setter Kassidi Yost has more than 2,000 assists, and senior hitter Emilee Lane, a Nebraska-Kearney commit, has more than 1,500 kills. Both are TMP school records. Beloit beat TMP in a great five-set match to start the year. The Monarchs and Phillipsburg have split two meetings. Phillipsburg has a first-year coach and elite junior Heather Schemper.
Probably the most depth-laden sub-state in Kansas. SIK featured this sub-state and particularly No. 1 seeded Hiawatha (36-3) last week. In addition to Hiawatha, No. 2 Nemaha Central (33-6), No. 3 Rossville (29-8), No. 4 Marysville (27-12), No. 5 Pleasant Ridge (20-10), No. 6 Royal Valley (22-13) and No. 7 Sabetha (17-19) are all contenders. Sabetha is the reigning 3A state champion.
Hiawatha is ranked fourth, and Nemaha Central fifth. Hiawatha, paced by Sarah Madsen, won the Big Seven title for the first time in 24 years – and the second occasion in the last 41.
No. 1 Herington (28-7) looks to break through with a long-awaited state berth. No. 2 Wabaunsee (29-8) and No. 3 Valley Heights (26-9) are also contenders. Wabaunsee is ranked seventh. Wabaunsee has finished second, first and third in the last three years in Class 2A. Wabaunsee senior Lauren Schutter has signed with Illinois State. Herington last made state in 2002. Herington has four seniors, including Halle Rutschman.
No. 1 Sedgwick (33-3) also looks to break through in a loaded sub-state. Coach Karen Stucky recently cleared 500 victories. No. 2 Hillsboro (29-8), No. 3 Sterling (28-8) and No. 4 Inman (26-10) are contenders. Sedgwick is ranked second, Hillsboro fifth, Sterling sixth and Inman eighth. Hillsboro took fourth in 2A. Sedgwick has one all-time state appearance, in 2005, per KSHSAA.
Sterling has many of the same key players from the 2A basketball title last winter. Freshman Lily Gray has 321 kills and a .296 average. Seniors Makenna Linden, Bennie Horsch and Kali Briar have between 135 and 157 kills. Linden has signed with Sterling College softball. Inman, under coach Megan Heckel, has senior middle hitter Reagan Brake, sophomore Chloe Schmidt, junior setter Daityn Raney, and senior libero Fiona McLain. Hillsboro features senior Sammie Saunders has 352 kills.
This is a very wide-open sub-state with Maranatha Christian Academy (24-12) as the only team above .500 in the field.
The Northeast Kansas League will have contenders with No. 1 Jefferson County North (30-7), No. 2 McLouth (24-7) and No. 3 Jackson Heights (25-9). JCN is ranked tenth. JCN and Jackson Heights have split two meetings this season.
No. 1 Sedan (24-8) and No. 2 Northeast (23-11) headline, but traditional power Colgan (23-14) is the likely favorite.
While Flinthills (27-5) is the top seed, Garden Plain (27-9) is the definite favorite. GP is ranked fourth in 2A with longtime coach Gina Clark.
The top-two teams both have put together excellent seasons with No. 1 Meade/Fowler (33-1), No. 2 Ellinwood (31-4) and No. 3 Elkhart (28-7). Meade is ranked ninth and Ellinwood third. Meade has won 12 in a row. Seniors Shelby Christiansen and Kylin Rudzik have combined for 478 kills. Meade is 13-0 versus Elkhart since ’08. Meade and Ellinwood have not played since 2018. Ellinwood has won nine in a row, captured the Central Prairie League and is possibly Kansas’ best serving team. Ellinwood has 266 aces, good for aces on 14.7 percent of serves. The Eagles are plus-122 between aces and service errors. Senior Mary Dimitt has cleared 1,000 career assists.
No. 1 Smith Center (35-2) is the strong favorite. St. Francis/Cheylin (Cheyenne County) was bumped to 2A when the schools formed a co-operative agreement. The Indians are 29-5. Smith Center was the 2A state runner-up to Heritage Christian last year. SC is looking for its first volleyball title in school history. Smith Center senior Tallon Rentschler has committed to Fort Hays and is the Lady Red’s all-time kill leader. Sophomore setter Camyrn Hutchinson recently cleared 1,000 career assists.
Class 1A, Division I
No. 1 Little River (31-4), No. 2 Goessel (24-11) and No. 3 St. John (20-12) form an outstanding sub-state. LR stands third in the rankings, St. John ninth and Goessel came into the rankings this week at No. 10. SJ is third in Class 1A, Division I. St. John senior Darby Smith went over 1,000 kills.
LR 6-foot-1 senior Lily Boughfman has committed to Fort Hays. She has more than 1,200 kills and 1,050 digs in her stellar career. Kate Ellwood is in her first year setting. Mea DeBaere is in her second year as the libero. LR has won three in a row versus Goessel, including two this season. Goessel senior setter Kaleigh Guhr has cleared 2,000 career assists. LR and SJ have not faced since 2019.
No. 1 Centralia (32-5) as re-asserted itself as a significant state contender. Centralia is ranked No. 1. The Panthers have 15 all-time state volleyball titles.
The SPIAA has three schools at the top: No. 1 Kiowa County (27-5), No. 2 Spearville (29-7) and No. 3 South Central (18-13). KC is ranked fifth. Spearville is ranked sixth. KC is 3-0 versus South Central this year. However, Spearville is 2-0 versus Kiowa County. Spearville has enjoyed several state runs in recent runs, including second and state quarterfinals the last two years.
No. 1 South Gray (26-9) is the top seed.
No. 1St. Paul (27-4) was featured earlier this week on Sports In Kansas. No. 2 Burlingame (23-7) and No. 3 Madison (20-11) are also leading contenders. SP is ranked eighth.
No. 1 Pretty Prairie (35-4) is the heavy favorite. PP is ranked second.
No. 1 Lakeside (28-5) is the top seed, ahead of second-seeded and rival Osborne (21-12). Lakeside has won 12 in a row. Sophomore Lauren Brummet has 292 kills and a .255 average.
No. 1 Victoria (26-5) opened the year with 20 straight wins and is 6-5 since. The losses have all come versus Ellinwood and Central Plains. Victoria will still be the favorite in a sub-state that has second-seeded Sylvan-Lucas (27-9) and third-seeded Ness City (20-13). Victoria is ranked fourth. Knight seniors Melany Huser and Kassi Weber have both enjoyed big seasons.
Class 1A, Division II
No. 1 Attica (33-3), No. 2 Argonia (25-7) and No. 3 Central Christian (24-9). Attica is third, Central Christian fifth, and Argonia tenth. Attica is the defending state runner-up to Hanover.
This sub-state has no teams above .500, though Ashland is 15-18.
No. 1 Central Plains, which has won back-to-back state titles, is the significant favorite to come out of the sub-state. The Oilers have won 27 matches. The rest of the teams in the sub-state have combined for 33. CP is ranked fourth. Central Plains is highly experienced and paced by senior Kassidy Nixon, the reigning 1A Volleyball Player of the Year and a first team all-state player in three sports.
No. 1 Dighton (23-9) is the top team. Dighton is ranked ninth. Senior Traci Cramer has enjoyed a big season with 122 kills and a .412 hitting percentage.
This should be a great sub-state between Golden Plains (30-6), Wheatland-Grinnell (26-9) and Logan-Palco (21-13), all Western Kansas Liberty League squads. W-G is ranked fifth, Golden Plains seventh. W-G won the league championship. Golden Plains had beaten W-G three times earlier this season, before the Thunderhawks won in three sets on Oct 16. W-G is 2-0 against Logan-Palco this season. W-G senior Livia Schultz has 319 kills.
Defending state champion Hanover (32-5) is the favorite with second-seeded Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton (24-9) and No. 3 Linn (24-12). Hanover is ranked No. 1.
This sub-state has just five teams, paced by Elyria Christian (17-17).
No. 1 Lebo (33-4) is the significant favorite. The Wolves have more than twice as many wins compared to any other team in the sub-state. Lebo is ranked second. Lebo finished second in 1A, Division I to Central Plains.