By CONOR NICHOLL
Overall notes for the 2022 state volleyball championships:
Every defending state champion, 6A Blue Valley North, 5A Lansing, 4A Andale, 3A Heritage Christian, 2A Smith Center, 1A-1 Spearville and 1A-II Hanover is back in the field.
All eight state qualifying 3A teams from 2021 return this year.
Per research from SIK and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame, Washburn Rural’s Brooklyn DeLeye and Riverton’s Jacy Thomasson have or will hit the highly elite number of 2,000 career kills. DeLeye recently cleared 2,000 kills and has 2,030. Thomasson has 1,989, which just passed former Silver Lake and K-State player Alyssa Schultejans.
Classes 5A and 6A are in Salina, 4A and 3A in Hutchinson, and 2A and 1A-1 in Dodge City, and 1A-II in Emporia. All teams have three pool play matches Friday. Top-two in each pool advance to Saturday.
Longest current winning streaks:
Washburn Rural 39
Nemaha Central, Flinthills 34
Note: Class 2A will be in a separate story. Smith Center’s Nick Linn won his 1,000 career match Saturday, the fourth coach in Kansas history to achieve the mark.
Overall Look: The Eastern Kansas League trio and Washburn Rural are clearly the top-four teams – with WR, a top-25 nationally ranked squad, likely the favorite.
No. 1 Washburn Rural (40-1) – Coach Kevin Bordewick became the third coach in Kansas history to reach 1,000 career wins. WR has been ranked top-25 nationally by MaxPreps. Rural has the state’s best senior in Brooklyn Deleye, a Kentucky commit and the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year. One of the best players in Kansas history, Deleye is first team all-state in volleyball, basketball and soccer. Rural has finished between second and fourth in the last three seasons. The Junior Blues have seven state titles, the last coming in ’11 and ’12. Rural was undefeated entering state last season. Rural outscored Blue Valley West in the ’21 state semifinals, though lost 28-26 in the third set.
WR is ranked first in 6A by the Kansas coaches. The Junior Blues are loaded with talent. DeLeye is returning first team all-state and 6A Player of the Year; senior Taylor Russell second team, and junior Jada Ingram honorable mention. Rural dominated its sub-state and outscored opponents 100-29 in the four sets. Russell has committed to MIAA’s Missouri Western for volleyball.
No. 4 Liberal (27-8) – Liberal, unranked by the Kansas coaches, won the Western Athletic Conference and advanced to state for the first time since 2008. The Redskins have enjoyed a tremendous turnaround after several single-figure victory seasons and an 0-10 start to last year. Liberal cruised in its own sub-state with none of the four sets closer than 25-18. Liberal has won six in a row. Senior Lizzy Cisneros has cleared 2,000 career digs. Senior Rylie Hallman has 237 kills and carries a .237 hitting percentage. Senior Jenna Ormiston has 193 kills, and junior Keyona Hall has 147 kills.
No. 5 Blue Valley (28-9) – Blue Valley won the state championship in 2019 and was runner-up in ’18. BV is ranked fourth by the Kansas coaches. The Tigers have won three in a row. Blue Valley has nine seniors that see playing time. Senior Julia Kinney has 227 kills and a .275 average. Senior Avery Delong has 180 kills and a .277 percentage. Senior Tiana Simmons is hitting .330, and senior Brooklyn Farris carries a .320 mark. Senior Kate Peterson has 565 assists. Junior Ryan McAleer, the state’s No. 1 libero for the Class of 2024, has 5.5 digs per set and 353 in the season. She has committed to Purdue. McAleer has missed a couple of matches and has played in 28 this year. When she plays, BV is 23-5. When she doesn’t play, the Tigers are 5-4.
No. 8 Blue Valley West (23-13) – Blue Valley West was first and second in 6A volleyball the last two seasons. West is ranked tenth in the coaches’ poll. Blue Valley West came back to defeat No. 1 seeded Olathe West in three sets (23-25, 25-20, 25-23) in the championship. Sophomore Ella Davidson has 278 kills, while sophomore Alex Myers has 245. Blue Valley West has zero seniors. Sophomore Brookelyn Hatton has 348 digs.
No. 2 Wichita Northwest (33-4) – Northwest qualified for state last year and finished 0-3 in pool play. NW has most recently reached state in ’09, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’15 and ’16. Northwest has routinely struggled at state and has not won a state match in more than 22 years. Northwest is ranked ninth.
No. 3 Mill Valley (30-8) – Since 2000, this marks Mill Valley’s fourth state appearance, after ’03, ’12 and ’13. MV is ranked seventh. Mill Valley defeated Blue Valley Northwest: 25-21, 22-25, 25-15 in the championship. MV is highly balanced with its top-five attackers between 125 and 186 kills: junior Kaitlyn Burke, senior Madeline Schnepf, freshman Ella Florez, sophomore Saida Jacobs and sophomore Ashlyn Blazer. Senior Sidney Kacsir has 271 digs.
No. 6 Blue Valley North (23-10) – Blue Valley North broke through to win its long-awaited first state title last year with a championship win against Blue Valley West. Matt Allin has coached at BVN for 20-plus years. North is ranked fifth. Sophomore Logan Parks is a likely Power 5 Division I recruit and a returning first team all-state player. Junior Janelle Green, a Cincinnati commit and daughter of former Chiefs’ quarterback Trent Green, was second all-state last season. In a marquee sub-state championship match, Blue Valley North defeated Olathe Northwest: 25-21, 19-25, 25-19 in the final. ONW was final four the last two falls and has two Division I players. Sophia McIntyre is the lone senior that sees consistent playing time.
No. 7 Lawrence Free State (25-12) – Free State is a repeat state qualifier after a 1-2 showing at ’21 state. Since 2000, FS has qualified for state in ’01, ’04, ’16, ’19, ’20 and ’21. Free State has never made it out of pool play in that span. FS has set a school record for most consecutive state trips. Standout Sawyer Thomsen has committed to Division I Cal.
Overall Look: From 2006-21, one of the three major EKL private schools (Miege, Aquinas, St. James) has won 5A every year but two. In 2016, Shawnee Heights won. Last year, Lansing won the title. Andover Central and Maize South have at least Power 5 volleyball commit, though can they/others beat Aquinas or St. James?
Lansing was first, SJA second, Aquinas third and Topeka Seaman fourth with Maize South and Bishop Carroll both returning state qualifiers.
1.St. Thomas Aquinas (35-3) – St. Thomas Aquinas has won eight state championships, the last coming in ’19 and ’20. Aquinas is ranked first in 5A. Aquinas senior Betsy Goodenow is returning first team all-state and has committed to Yale. Senior libero Reagan Anderson is returning second team all-state. Aquinas held off much improved Blue Valley Southwest (25-19, 25-15) in the championship match. Anderson has committed to Wichita State volleyball. Aquinas has four seniors, and has several big out of state wins, including regional power Papillion (Neb.) and Marist (Chi.). Junior Tatum Grimes is another Division I prospect. STA has won 11 in a row. Goodenow has 322 kills and a .349 hitting percentage. Grimes carries 195 kills and a .376 hitting percentage. Senior Ashlyn Reeves has 151 kills and a .324 mark. STA is hitting a highly efficient .286 as a team. Junior Kelsey Schenck has 639 assists. Aquinas’ only loss to a Kansas team came in two sets in the season opener against Washburn Rural.
4. Andover Central (33-7) – Andover Central has enjoyed an impressive season under Kayla Weidert with its first conference title since ’14 and first state appearance since ’16. AC is ranked sixth in 5A. Six-foot-2 Allie Paulsen has committed to Wichita State. AC had faced Newton five times this season and was 1-3 in the previous four matchups. The Jags were 3-15 in its last 18 meetings against Newton. This time, in its own sub-state, the Jaguars won 26-24, 25-16. AC went undefeated in league play and has won nine in a row. The Jaguars have heavily relied on seven players: seniors Paulsen and Maddi Amekporfor (team-high 268 kills), juniors Gretta Stover, Emma Geier, Hayden Snodgrass and libero Willow Deckinger and sophomore Jordyn Washington. Paulsen has 263 kills, while Washington has a highly efficient .363 average. Paulsen has 73 blocks, more than half of her team’s total. Deckinger, hurt last season, has emerged with 289 digs. Snodgrass has stepped up at setter with 583 assists.
5. Hutchinson (30-7) – Hutchinson is at the state tournament for a second straight year after it qualified in 6A last season. Before then, the most recent showings came in ’14, ’17 and ’21. The Salthawks are 0-9 at state in that time. Hutchinson is ranked eighth. Senior Maliyah Johnson is a returning honorable mention all-state selection. Hutchinson cruised in its own sub-state with no sets closer than 25-19. Johnson has 4.3 kills and a .325 average. Mya Thompson is at 3.4 kills. Rachel Tomac carries a .284 average, while Aliyah Green is at .272. Sophomore Grace Posch paces with 3.6 digs per set. In two seasons, Posch has 568 digs and 725 serve receptions. Setter Josie McLean, who spent her first three years at nearby Nickerson, has cleared 2,000 career assists.
8. Bishop Carroll (28-9) – Carroll has been at state for seven straight years. BC lost to Lansing and St. James in pool play last year. BC is ranked fifth. Carroll has won five straight. The Golden Eagles have seven seniors: Emma Stallbaumer, Lacey Wise, Ally Larkin, Lillie Gorges, Grace Long, Mariah Farber and Allyson Orth. Larkin delivered five kills against Maize and 14 kills against Emporia. BC trailed Emporia by eight points in the first set and won 25-21, 26-24. Farber, Larkin, Long, Gorges and sophomore Olivia Nicoli are top players, and Wise is the libero.
2. St. James Academy (33-3) – St. James won 10 state titles under longtime coach Nancy Dorsey, the last coming in ’17 and ’18. SJA is ranked second in 5A. Sophomore Reese Messer is a top-five player for her class in volleyball and basketball. She is a returning first team all-state player. Juniors Mya Bolton and Ava Spachek are second team all-state selections. Bolton is part of the USA volleyball national developmental program. Junior Heidi Deavers is an honorable mention all-state selection. SJA has won nine in a row. The Thunder has lost twice to Aquinas and once to St. Louis power Lafayette. Julia Headley has 2.8 kills per set and a .307 average. Kate McKnight has 2.3 kills per set with a .344 average. Messer is hitting .257 with 700 assists, among the state’s bests. Bolton paces SJA with 356 digs.
3. Maize South (31-5) – Maize South qualified for state last season and went 0-3 in pool play. The Mavericks lost to St. James, Bishop Carroll and Lansing. Maize South is loaded with talent under coach Alexis Head, who had previously enjoyed success at Wichita East. Maize South is ranked seventh. Setter Camdyn Stucky has committed to Tennessee volleyball. Middle blocker Avery Lowe is headed to Nebraska-Kearney basketball. Maize South has won seven in a row with a highly efficient offense. Gracie Morrow and Jillian Gregory each average 3.8 kills per set. Gregory carries a .355 average, while Morrow is at .307. Carly Koster has a .307 average. She and Lowe are tied for the team with 44 blocks. Stucky has 524 assists.
6. Topeka Seaman (30-8) – Seaman took fourth in 5A last season. Seaman is ranked third in 5A. Seaman has reached state three straight years and cruised through its sub-state. Seaman won its four sets by a combined total of 100-29. Laynee Brown is the libero, and Maegan Mills has been a key hitter. The 6-foot-1 Mills has a 27.6 inch vertical. Brooklyn Gormey, Reagan McGivern and Campbell Chabot have also been strong players.
7. Lansing (26-8) – Lansing has its third coach in four years. The Lions are third, third, second and first the last four years. Legendary Julie Slater (1,000-plus career wins) retired and went to Pleasant Ridge. Lindsay Zych went second and first the last two years, and then took over at Bishop Miege, her alma mater. Lansing is ranked fourth in 5A. Lansing took huge graduation losses, namely with setter Caitlin Bishop and libero Kamryn Farris. Overall, five players from last year’s team signed to play in college. Bishop finished with more than 3,000 assists, was 5A Player of the Year and now among the nation’s Division II leaders in assists at Missouri-St. Louis. Farris has played a key role at South Dakota.
Lansing graduated 70 percent of its kills and 65 percent of its digs. Junior Anna Laincz has 386 kills and a .247 hitting percentage. Senior Skylar Weaver has 254 kills. Junior Ashlyn Jaccard has 215 kills and a .312 average. Junior Virginia Van Der Werff leads with 53 blocks. Per Leavenworth Times, Weaver has offers from Newman, Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri S&T, Tennessee State and Winthrop.
Overall Look: Can Andale achieve state history with the first 4A undefeated season since 1998? The team that last beat the Indians and gave Andale a strong test during the regular season is second-seeded Circle.
1. Andale (39-0) – Andale is looking for all kinds of history under coach Kaylie Bergkamp and is the prohibitive favorite. The Indians are second, second and first in 4A the last three years. Before then, Andale had never made a state final. Andale is trying to become the first undefeated team in any class since Centralia in 2018. No 4A team has been undefeated since Concordia in 1998. Andale is also trying to pull off the rare double with undefeated football and volleyball in same season. Andale has not lost since it dropped a pool play match to Circle at state last fall. Andale is ranked first in 4A.
The Indians are 78-1 in sets this year. On Sept. 20, Andale beat Circle in a close two-set match. Andale won 25-20, 25-23. At state last season, Circle beat Andale in three sets.
Andale’s McKenzie Fairchild is a Texas A&M track commit and is the reigning 4A volleyball player of the year. Maddie Schrandt has committed to Division I Missouri State volleyball. Both are returning first team all-state players. In the sub-state final, Andale beat Abilene, 31-29, 25-8. Andale has made state five straight falls and is 155-10 in the last four years. The Indians have nine seniors and standout freshman Hayden Grimes. Schrandt leads with a .347 average, while Fairchild has a .302 average. Grimes paces with 68 aces and 351 digs.
4. Paola (26-11) – Paola is at state for the first time since 2016 and second in the last 13 years. Paola finished fourth in ’16. The Panthers defeated longtime power Topeka Hayden in the sub-state semifinals, and then beat Ottawa (25-23, 27-25) in the finals. Ottawa was final four and runner-up the last two seasons. Maggie Kauk leads with 3.4 kills per set.
5. Rock Creek (25-12) – Rock Creek has generally been a 3A school and moved up to 4A. This marks RC’s first state berth since 2008. Rock Creek is ranked sixth. Ayla Klingenberg leads with 4.2 kills a set, 78 blocks, and a .373 average. Ashlyn Holmes has 5.6 digs per set.
8. Bishop Miege (16-21) – In the last several seasons, Miege has routinely qualified for state with a sub-.500 record. Miege won 2020 state and was final four last season. Bishop Miege is ranked fourth. Alumna Lindsay Zych took over at Miege after she led Lansing to second and first finishes the last two years. Sophomore Lauren Lopez and senior Ali Olson are both returning second team all-state picks. Miege cruised at sub-state with no set closer than 25-18.
2.Towanda-Circle (34-4) – Circle is the last team to beat Andale. Circle narrowly missed qualifying for the final four last year. Circle also qualified for state in ’19, which ended an eight-year drought. The T-Birds are ranked third. Circle junior Jacqueline Corcoran is a returning first team all-state pick. The T-Birds cruised with two sub-state wins and allowed 17 and 21 points in the two sub-state matches. Corcoran is at elite player with 4.7 kills per set, 3.4 digs per set, and a .310 average. Sydney Johnson has 1.7 kills per set, a .275 average and 45 blocks. Hailee Schropp paces with 341 digs.
3. Clay Center (27-10) – Clay Center’s last three state berths came in ’13, ’14 and ’20. Clay Center is ranked fifth. CC has won seven in a row. Megan Wright, Hailee Bent and Kinsey Ohlde are the top hitters, all within between 185 and 284 kills. Megan Wright (551 receptions, 454 digs) and Mackenzie Weller (827 assists) are strong specialists. Weller has cleared 1,100 career assists.
6. Tonganoxie (24-14) – This marks Tonganoxie’s first state berths since ’15 and ’16. The Chieftains are ranked eighth and have enjoyed a nice turnaround. Tonganoxie was 14-24 last year and has posted a winning season since 2016. Tonganoxie pulled a slight upset against Independence with a 25-18, 25-16 win in the sub-state title. Tonganoxie has seven straight wins. Junior Lucy and 6-foot-1 freshman Finley Rieke have paced the Chieftains. Lucy has three kills a set, and Finley has 2.2 kills per set. Finley has a .269 average, while Lucy has a .246 mark. They are 1-2 in blocks; Finley with 84 and Lucy at 77. Junior Bailey Poje and senior libero Kylie Vandervoot are the team captains. Poje has delivered a huge career with 1,020 digs and 1,398 serve-receptions.
7. Louisburg (20-17) – Louisburg has routinely made the state tournament, though had not qualified the previous two years. Before then, the Wildcats qualified in ’10, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’17, ’18 and ’19. Louisburg is unranked and pulled off one of the biggest sub-state championship upsets with a 25-18, 25-19 against 30-win Baldwin.
Overall Look: All eight teams return from the state tournament last year. Olathe Heritage Christian remains the favorite, but this is a very deep field. Even No. 8 seed Smoky Valley took second two years ago and has one of the state’s best all-around players in junior Hope Duncan.
1.Nemaha Central (42-1) – Nemaha Central is the consolidation of Nemaha Valley and Baileyville B&B, both which have enjoyed great success in volleyball. NV won seven state titles and has Kansas’ all-time winning streak at 137 matches from ’88-91. B&B won four titles (’05, ’11-13) under coach Jessica Koch, a NV graduate and current NC coach. Koch is closing in on 700 career wins, including 302-86 with the Thunder. NC has been ranked No. 1 throughout the fall. Senior Addy Holthaus is a returning second team all-state selection. Nemaha Central rolled in its sub-state with one of six sets closer than 25-13. NC has its most wins since a 42-6 season in 2017. NC has made seven state berths in nine years. NC has won 34 straight matches. Holthaus has 293 kills, Ella Larkin with 217 and Cali Honeyman has 193 kills. The 6-2 offense features the setting duo of Lillian Schultejans and Elli Rusche. Samantha Nordhus, Larkin and Holthaus have between 323 and 384 digs.
4. Cheney (35-4) – By winning percentage, Cheney’s Sara Walkup among the state’s very best coaches with a 470-99 career mark. A former Wichita State standout, Walkup has spent her entire head coaching career at Cheney. The Cardinals have made state six of the last seven years. Cheney took second in ’13, ’17 and last year. Cheney was also fourth in ’19. Cheney is ranked third. The Cardinals have won six straight matches. Six-foot-2 Campbell Hague has delivered a big year with 3.6 kills per set, and Anna Martin is at 2.6. Hague is a talented basketball player and is a state runner-up in the triple jump. Hague paces the Cardinals with a .282 hitting percentage, 41 aces and 64 blocks. Jailyn Adolph is among the state leaders with 489 digs, and Alex Bittner has 405. Elina Bartlett has 743 assists. Cheney is 103-12 in the last three seasons.
5. Beloit (34-5) – Beloit is annually among Kansas’ best offenses and has won seven straight league titles under coach Brandy Paul. She is the only volleyball coach to reach a state tournament in Trojan history. Beloit’s best finish was second in ’19. Beloit is ranked fourth. Sophomore Addison Budke, featured earlier this year on SIK, has went over 1,000 career kills and currently stands at 1,177. Beloit has won 13 straight matches. Budke has consistently ranked second in Kansas with 498 kills. Mylie Brown has 948 career kills in three years. Budke has a .377 hitting percentage, while Brown is hitting .265. Cassandra Thompson has 59 blocks. Twins Kailyn and Jaidyn Follis have been impactful specialists. Kailyn has 420 digs, while Jaidyn has consistently paced Kansas with 931 assists.
8. Smoky Valley (32-8) – Smoky Valley had not reached state since the mid-80s before second and fourth the previous two falls. Junior Hope Duncan is among the state’s most versatile and top players. SV is ranked eighth. Smoky Valley is eighth in 3A. The Vikings dominated its sub-state with one of six sets closer than 25-13.
SV has won five straight matches. SV lost in three sets to Beloit on Sept. 10. However, SV does own a three-set win against Circle, the second seed in the 4A state tournament. Duncan has 4.4 kills per set, while Katja Blanchat has 3.9 kills per set. Blanchat leads with 77 blocks. Duncan paces with 4.2 digs per set. She should finish with a rare season 400-400-400 triple in kills, digs and serve-receptions. Adrian Hazelwood has 864 assists and 1,810 in her career.
2. Riverton (37-2) – Riverton’s Jacy Thomasson should clear 2,000 career kills this weekend, an exceedingly rare mark in Kansas history. Riverton is ranked fifth. She is a returning second team all-state pick and has committed to Pittsburg State. RHS has won 13 straight. Thomasson has 536 kills, six kills a set and a .506 average. Elizabeth Wells has 2.7 kills per set with a .376 average. Thomasson has 86 blocks. Morgan Compton leads with 887 assists, while Lexie Mallatt leads in digs and serve-receptions.
3. Goodland (36-3) – Goodland continues its remarkable rise behind last year’s and this year’s senior class. The Cowgirls were final four and state qualifier in volleyball the past two seasons and won 3A basketball last winter. Olivia Lehman has paced Kansas in assists most of the fall and is a returning honorable mention all-state pick. Talexa Weeter has exceeded 1,000 career points in basketball and 1,000 volleyball kills. She has committed to Fort Hays basketball. Goodland is ranked seventh.
Goodland rolled in three sub-state wins with no set closer than 25-18. The Cowgirls have won 18 straight matches. Weeter has 4.1 kills per set, Lindsey Cure has 3.5 kills a set, and Jaxi Mitchek is at 2.9. Cure, a tremendous athlete who is a key basketball player and the school record holder in the javelin, paces with a .355 hitting percentage and 118 blocks. Goodland is known for its depth; Weeter leads with 3.4 digs per set, Haley Biermann has 3.1 digs, and Mitchek is at 3.0. Mitchek is also a standout softball player. Biermann and Mitchek were also key on the state basketball team.
6. Eureka (30-6) – Eureka was a slight upset out of its own sub-state and is unranked entering state. The Tornadoes were the third seed and defeated No. 2 Humboldt and No. 1 Neodesha, both Tri-Valley League foes, in the sub-state semifinals and finals. Eureka beat Prairie View in three sets in the sub-state quarterfinals. Eureka is at state for a second consecutive year. Maggie Miller has 4.8 kills per set, and Ashley Singhateh has 3.0 kills a set. Singhateh carries a .346 average, and Miller is at .292.
7. Olathe Heritage Christian (31-7) – Heritage Christian Academy has won 2A and 3A the last two years and carries a 13-match win streak into state. HCA has not dropped a set in the 13 wins. Coach Tom Slaughter cleared 200 career wins at HCA this year. The Chargers routinely play much larger schools. HCA has its well-known junior trio of Rachel Van Gorp and Cy Rae Campbell. Van Gorp has committed to Iowa State, Campbell to Wake Forest.
HCA is ranked second. Van Gorp is the reigning 3A Player of the Year. The Chargers came out of the highly competitive Silver Lake sub-state where the top four teams were all 24-11 or better. HCA beat No. 1 seed Rossville, 25-17, 25-18, in the sub-state final. Van Gorp has 3.9 kills per set, with Campbell at 2.7 and Grace Schmedding at 2.6. Caelyn Ferguson leads with a .387 average, Campbell at .382 and Van Gorp with a .344 mark. Setter Maci Hazel leads with 688 assists and 57 aces. Hazel is one of four seniors for HCA. On last year’s squad, Hazel won the team’s Charger Award, while Van Gorp and Campbell were team co-MVPs. Hazel has nearly 1,600 assists in the last two seasons. HCA’s resume included wins at 6A Gardner-Edgerton, 4A Baldwin, Topeka Hayden, Lansing and Pittsburg Colgan.
Class 1A, Division I
Overall Look: This is a relatively balanced field with multiple teams with limited past state success and/or has not been to state in many years. Look for No. 3 Pretty Prairie, No. 5 Spearville and No. 6 Doniphan West as possible favorites. PP was the state runner-up to Spearville last fall, and then won state basketball, though graduated standout McKenna Vogl, who was 1A basketball player of the year. In the MaxPreps ratings that include strength of schedule, LR has a slight edge over Spearville for the top spot. PP is ranked third among the state teams, and DW fourth. No. 1 seed Flinthills and No. 2 Sylvan-Lucas have easily the statistically easiest strength of schedules among the eight teams, per MaxPreps.
1.Flinthills (37-2) – Flinthills is ranked sixth via the Kansas coaches. Next to Andale, Flinthills and Nemaha Central have the longest current winning streak in Kansas volleyball at 34. Flinthills had a bye and won a pair of two-set matches in sub-state. Harlee Randall has enjoyed a huge year with 4.1 kills a set, a .413 average, 89 blocks and 74 aces. Karly Girty has 244 digs and 489 assists.
4.Little River (35-4) – Little River is ranked first by the Kansas coaches. LR held off Wheat State League rival Goessel, 25-22, 27-25, in the sub-state championship game. LR has nine straight wins. Alaina Eck has 293 kills, while Aubrey Olander has 266 kills. Kami Grasser, Eck and Mea Debaere have between 322 and 385 receptions. Chenzi Debaere has 420 assists. Since Sept. 24, LR has one loss, to 2A state qualifier Inman. Two of the losses came against Marion and Ell-Saline, teams that LR later defeated. LR has done well replacing first team all-state volleyball and basketball standout Lily Boughfman, now with Fort Hays volleyball.
5.Spearville (32-4) – Spearville is the defending 1A-I champion and ranked second by the Kansas coaches. Spearville seniors Tawney Krominga and Cameron Offerle are both returning first team all-state picks. The Lancers defeated SPIAA rival South Gray in the sub-state finale: 25-22, 23-25, 25-22.
8. Olpe (24-15) – Olpe pulled a minor upset at sub-state and is unranked. The Eagles were the No. 3 seed in the Madison sub-state. Olpe last made state in ’18 and ’19.
2. Sylvan-Lucas (37-2) – Sylvan-Lucas is ranked seventh by the Kansas coaches and has a highly experienced team. S-L senior Keeli Knobbe has cleared 1,000 career kills and is a returning second team all-state selection. S-L has a 10-win improvement after a 27-10 season last year. Senior setter Sophie Pancost has cleared 1,000 career assists, and Linda Haring reached 500 career victories. Senior Addie Wallace has played well at middle hitter. Other key players are junior libero Emma Cline, junior middle Emma Finkenbinder and sophomore setter Maggie Labertew. S-L has not reached state since 2017.
3. Pretty Prairie (36-4) – PP is back to state after a second-place volleyball and first-place basketball finish last school year. Senior Bailey Young is a returning player who earned all-state recognition. Young has 4.6 kills per set, 57 blocks and a .372 average, all team-bests. Joley Harbaugh has 76 aces. Trinity Kruse has 340 digs, and Harbaugh has 574 assists.
6. Doniphan West (34-5) – DW is ranked fifth by the Kanas coaches. This is Doniphan West’s first-ever state tournament trip and continues an impressive turnaround. The Mustangs defeated Twin Valley League foe Centralia 25-11, 19-25, 25-19 in the sub-state finale. DW had single figure wins in ’17 and ’18 and has improved to 10, 16, 25 and 34 wins in the last four years. DW has three quality hitters with Katie Johnson, Avery Weathersbee and Malaina Whetstine.
7. St. Francis (29-9) – St. Francis came out of the closely packed Quinter sub-state and is ranked tenth. In the final, SF held off Victoria: 26-24, 16-25, 25-22. This is the Indians’ second state trip since 2000 and first as a non-co-operative agreement program.
Class 1A, Division II
Overall Look: It would be relatively surprising if Lebo and Hanover don’t meet in the finals, though No. 1-ranked Attica is a viable contender, too. Lebo has taken second in the last two years.
1.Lebo (39-1) – Lebo has played a highly challenging slate of 2A and 3A teams is ranked third in the classification. Lebo has its two returning first team all-state players with sophomore Saige Hadley and senior Brooklyn Jones, a three-sport all-state selection. Plus, junior Audrey Peek is a returning second team all-state selection. Lebo lost to Central Plains in the 2020 final and Hanover in the ’21 championship. This season, Lebo’s only loss came against a non-Kansas school in the fall’s fourth match. Lebo’s resume included two wins against 3A Neodesha, a victory against 3A Frontenac, and wins against state qualifiers Wheatland-Grinnell and Olpe. On Oct. 1, Lebo won the Scott City tournament against multiple 3A schools.
4.Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton (31-7) – BSJT is ranked fourth by the Kansas coaches. The Blujays and Thunder Ridge had both defeated each other during the year. BSJT defeated its Northern Plains League rival foe TR, 25-15, 25-20. Ella Wiles has 3.1 kills per set, while Carlie Brummer has 2.3. Wiles also paces with 78 blocks and 3.9 digs per set.
5. Hutchinson-Central Christian (27-11) – Central Christian is ranked ninth in the coaches’ poll. CC has made consistent state tournament trips, including ’07-11, ’15 and the last two falls. Central Christian was a final four squad in ’21. Belle Barnett has 2.2 kills per set, 66 blocks and a .341 average, all team highs. Kaylee Kauffman, a first team all-state basketball player, has 1,490 career assists.
8. Ingalls (23-13) – Ingalls is outside of the top-10 and one of the bigger surprises to qualify for state. The Bulldogs defeated top-seeded Tribune-Greeley County, 30-28, 25-15.
2. Attica (38-3) – Attica is the top-ranked team in the classification. Attica has three state trips in the last 10 years: ’13, ’15 and ‘20. Attica was the state runner-up to Hanover. Attica has a loss to 4A Mulvane and two defeats against 1A-I state qualifier Pretty Prairie. Attica is 3-0 against conference foe Hutchinson Central Christian. Allie Blurton has 3.3 kills per set, while Sidney Swingle and Brenna Ricke each have 2.2. Chloe Traffas is among the state leaders with 470 digs.
3. Hanover (33-5) – Hanover has captured back-to-back titles and is ranked second. The Wildcats return its two all-state players with first team senior Ceegan Atkins and honorable mention Massey Holle. Hanover has won 12 straight matches. Atkins has another huge year with 5.3 kills per set, and Holle has 4.9 kills a set. Holle has a .331 average, while Atkins is at .324. Atkins is among Kansas’ elite with 562 digs, Holle has 415 and Rencin has 389.
6. Coldwater-South Central (25-13) – This marks the third state trip for the T-Wolves since 2000 after an 0-3 showing in ’15 and a second-place finish in ’17.
7. Wheatland-Grinnell (25-14) – Wheatland-Grinnell is a perennial volleyball power. W-G is not ranked and came out of a balanced sub-state with multiple western Kansas rivals. In the sub-state semifinals, W-G defeated Northern Valley (26-24, 26-24) and beat Wallace County, 25-20, 25-21, in the sub-state finals. W-G has won 13 straight matches.
Junior Karoline Schroeder is a returning honorable mention all-state selection. She leads the team by a big margin in hitting percentage, W-G was second in ’07, second in ’10, final four in ’12, qualifier in ’14, state champion in ’15, second in ’16, final four in ’17, qualifier in ’18, final four in ’20 and qualifier last year. Coach Shannon Foster has more than 300 career victories.