By CONOR NICHOLL
This week, SIK takes a look at surprise teams and milestone wins, especially around the Wichita area with Augusta, Wichita Northwest, Nickerson, Goessel and Sterling. Plus a look at school records and other top performances, including Baldwin’s Sophie Baker, the statewide player of the week. SIK starts, though, with possibly Kansas’ biggest turnaround with the Orioles:
Augusta enjoying great season behind Myers, senior class
Augusta coach Kynnedy Myers, a standout player at Rose Hill and two collegiate levels, became the Oriole coach in mid-spring. Augusta hovered around .500 in 2020. Setter Jadyn Jackson had graduated and signed with Pittsburg State. She was Augusta’s lone first team all-league player. Augusta has limited volleyball tradition and has not made the state tournament since 2008, per KSHSAA archives.
Two second team all-conference selections returned: senior libero Avery Riedel and senior middle hitter Tommie Schaffner. Myers was aware of the 2020 record.
“I thought it was going to be a mediocre team,” Myers said.
Then, Myers met with all the seniors after she got the job. She quickly reversed course.
“The second I met with the seniors, I was like, ‘OK, we are going to be really good, I can tell,’” Myers said. “I could tell by their mentality. I could tell by the questions they were asking me.”
Then, Myers had to convince her squad of the talent.
Augusta has six seniors, five who are in the top-seven: Schaffner, Riedel, Sydney Scott, Catryna Winzer and Alyssa Apel. Senior Abi Pressnell is a key reserve who brings good attitude and work ethic. Plus, junior Trinity McMichael and Avery Williams are starting hitters. Sophomore Kayla Houghtaling has taken over as setter. Schaffner and Riedel are captains.
In Myers’ eyes, Augusta already had strong team chemistry. She’s been most impressed with the leadership, especially from the seniors.
“Seniors that are very passionate about volleyball, so it makes practices fun, so we can focus on skills, and how to be a better team versus how to be a better teammate,” Myers told SIK on Monday.
At the start of year, Augusta set a goal to finish top two or three in league. McPherson, Circle and Buhler have paced AVCTL Division III. McPherson won the ’20 league title and returns Rhian Swanson, a KU commit.
Myers has told her team to “think bigger.” Augusta has raised its goal to a 4A state championship.
“I don’t think going into the season they realized how good they were,” Myers said. “So it’s just been from the beginning of the season till now, they have really built their confidence as a team, and started to believe in themselves.”
With two weeks left in the regular season, Augusta is certainly in the top-five biggest volleyball surprises in Kansas with a 22-4 mark. Since 1997, a second-place finish in ’06 and the 1-2 showing at ’08 state are the Orioles’ lone state trips.
In last Thursday’s Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association rankings, Augusta vaulted from eighth to sixth. McPherson is ranked second, Circle fourth. The Orioles have won five in a row and captured multiple tournament titles. Augusta opened 6-3 with losses to Wichita Trinity, Circle and McPherson, the first two in three sets. The two-set loss to the Bullpups came on Sept. 14.
“I think they just kind of were used to being the underdog, and so we had to do a lot of mental strategies in practice to let them know that they could beat good teams,” Myers said.
A week later, Augusta defeated El Dorado in two sets and then earned the milestone three-set comeback win against McPherson. Augusta showed great hustle throughout the match, including a clip that earned plenty of social media attention.
Augusta won 16-25, 25-15, 25-21. It marked the first three-set win in the Myers’ era. On Sept. 25, Augusta beat Garden Plain in three sets and Hillsboro in two sets. Three days later, Augusta defeated Clearwater.
Augusta was 1-9 in its previous 10 matches versus McPherson and beat the Bullpups for the first time since Oct. 4, 2016. The Orioles were 1-5 in its last six versus Hillsboro, and 1-4 against Garden Plain.
Additionally, Augusta is 3-0 versus Buhler, which ended a seven-match losing streak in the series.
“We were playing so hard,” Myers said of the McPherson win. “And the girls wanted to win so bad that in my head, I was thinking, ‘I am going to be so upset if we don’t win this game, because they deserve to win.’ Because there were girls flying all over the floor. You could just tell my team wanted it so bad. It was really good to see them not crack under pressure, because sometimes at the beginning of the season, we did that.
“And against other teams, we have done that, so that was a really big I guess turn of a corner, to show them that they are good enough to play against McPherson and beat McPherson, and they are good enough to win state if they believe they can,” Myers added.
Augusta has written out 4A state champions and put it on the wall. Every day, Augusta jumps up and touches the sign.
Kansas volleyball has seven classes. Of the current top-six teams in each class, just five were unranked in the preseason: 4A’s Baldwin and Augusta, 3A’s Hiawatha, 2A Ellinwood, and 1A-1 Centralia. Baldwin is third in 4A, Hiawatha fifth in 3A, Ellinwood fifth in 2A and Centralia third.
Of those five squads, Hiawatha, Ellinwood and Centralia were all at least four matches over .500 last season. Baldwin, like Augusta, hovered around .500.
“If we set a really high goal, we will hard work in practice to where at the end of the season, it’s a high possibility we can do that,” Myers said.
Myers’ father and grandfather both played basketball at Friends University. At Rose Hill, the 5-11 Myers collected second team all-state (top-14) in Class 4A, Division I in 2014 by the Kansas Volleyball Coaches. She played for Melissa Segovia, who won a state title at RH and is now at Valley Center.
“Her biggest thing in high school was we are not going to win games if we don’t have good chemistry on the court,” Myers said. “And so I guess in high school, that was drilled in my head from the second I stepped on the floor.”
After a stellar career at Rose Hill, Myers started for two years as a setter at Oklahoma Baptist University.
She delivered 2,607 assists, earned second team All-American honors in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). OBU twice made the NCCAA national title match.
Then, Myers played for Division I Missouri-Kansas City and finished with 898 assists and 377 digs in 200 career sets in ’17-18. UMKC players did mental training, which built Myers’ ability and confidence.
Myers is a kindergarten teacher in the Augusta district. She started coaching club when she was a freshman in college. This is her first high school coaching job.
“Once the varsity position opened up at Augusta, I just felt like it was kind of God’s plan for me to apply for that job,” she said.
She has looked to impart the same lessons to Augusta.
“We are working on positive affirmations for each other,” Myers said. “We really struggle to let go of errors, so we come up with a way to remind a teammate where if you are making errors and you are getting in your head, they give them a little signal, so that they can remind them to just let it go and keep moving forward.”
Houghtaling, who worked with Myers throughout the summer, has quickly emerged as one of the state’s statistical leaders with 502 assists.
Myers said Augusta spends “a lot” of time in practice on defense and serve-receive, normally at least 15 minutes on passing and serve-receive. Augusta has set a goal each match to have a 2.2 passing percentage on a 3.0 scale. For the season, Augusta has a 2.4 passing percentage, which Myers called “tremendous.” Augusta has hit 2.2 in 90 percent of the matches.
“It’s set them up to be really good passers,” Myers said.
The 6-foot-1 Scott has picked up volleyball/basketball offers from KCAC schools, including Bethany, Ottawa and Southwestern. She has 139 kills and 24 blocks.
“Sydney Scott, she is a leader by example,” Myers said. “She works super hard at practice, the rest of the team kind of follows her lead on that.”
Schaffner paces with 188 kills, 45 blocks and 36 aces. The 6-footer has earned junior college and KCAC interest. Williams is also 6-foot tall.
“She leads in games a lot,” Myers said of Schaffner. “She is very vocal and is a very smart volleyball player, so she can give her teammates advice on where to go or what to do or how to improve.”
Riedel lead with 238 digs and recently picked up a Bethel College offer. McMichael is second with 207 digs.
“During games, (Riedel) never lets a ball hit the floor,” Myers said. “She is always the first one on the ground when a ball is about to hit the floor, and that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the team. So with those three and their different leadership skills, it has set up to be really successful.”
Wichita Northwest remains undefeated under first-year head coach Emily Hiebert
Beyond the five biggest surprises of Augusta, Baldwin, Centralia, Hiawatha and Ellinwood, Wichita Northwest is probably sixth. Northwest opened ninth in 6A. The Grizzlies are a remarkable 33-0 and have dropped just one set all season.
On Tuesday, Northwest faces City League rivals Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel. Northwest had a number under .500 seasons before a 12-2 mark in a COVID-19 shortened year last fall.
Like Augusta and coach Myers, Wichita Northwest has hired a first-year head coach: Emily Hiebert. Northwest captured the Andover tournament earlier this month. The 6-foot Hiebert, from Newton, played in 131 career matches and thrice earned first team all-conference honors in a stellar Wichita State University career.
The Grizzlies beat BC on Sept. 7 and ended a 13-match losing streak in the series.
Northwest defeated Derby on Oct. 2 and Oct. 9. Before this season, NW was 1-11 in the last 12 meetings versus the Panthers. The Grizzlies beat Kapaun on Sept. 14. Northwest was 1-5 in the last six meetings versus KMC.
Northwest has three seniors: 6-2 Caiya Stucky, outside hitter Deslyne Cooper and outside hitter Natalya Ross. Caiya has her sister, sophomore Camdyn, on the squad. Juniors Brailee and Daetyn Bogle are sisters, too.
Baldwin turnaround paced by Baker; big win against Ottawa, Bonner and Eudora; close to 1,000 career assists
Baldwin is 23-3 and has won six in a row, including the recent Wellsville tournament. Senior setter/right side Sophie Baker earned MaxPreps Kansas Player of the Week. In 19 sets played, Baker finished with 151 assists, for 7.9 assists per game. She delivered 42 digs. On Oct. 4, Baldwin beat Ottawa in four sets.
Baldwin had lost seven in a row to Ottawa dating back to 2014.
Ottawa won the first set 25-23, then Baldwin the next three: 25-16, 25-14, 25-21. Baldwin hit .342 in the match with all but seven kills from non-seniors. Sophomore Fisayo Afonja delivered 19 kills with a .469 average. Junior Chaney Barth delivered 19 kills and a .372 average. Seniors Zoey LaTessa and Ella Scoby finished with 14 and 13 digs, respectively.
Baker, in her second year on varsity, has 529 assists.
In September, Baldwin also beat Bonner Springs twice, which ended a nine-game losing streak in the series that stretched back to 2013. As well, Baldwin is now 4-0 against Eudora this season. Before 2021, Baldwin had lost 14 in a row since ’13.
Baldwin was 12-11 last year and returned more than 65 percent of its kills. Baker and Afonja are returning all-league honorable mention selections. Baker has a 4.0 GPA and loves volleyball. She would like to play in college, primarily as a DS.
Guhr reaches 2,000 career assists for Goessel; other milestones
Goessel senior setter Kaleigh Guhr has spent her entire life around the Bluebird volleyball program. Kaleigh’s mom, Crysta, is the longtime successful coach with Goessel volleyball. This is Crysta’s 17th year as the head coach with five final four appearances, including the state championship in ’15. Entering last weekend, Crysta was 490-178 as head coach.
Kaleigh is the third Goessel setter to clear 2,000 career assists in the last 10 years. Alyssa Booton had more than 2,600 assists from ’12-15. Savanna Wuest delivered 2,150 and earned all-state in ‘17. Kaleigh has been to state volleyball many times in her life and watched a lot of Goessel girls play at state. She looked up to many of the former Bluebirds. This season, she is looking to reach state for the first time as a player.
Goessel finished 16-17 last season and had girls in COVID-19 quarantine as the year ended. This year, Goessel is 19-9. The Bluebirds have plenty of athleticism with four freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and two to three seniors on a consistent basis. The freshmen quartet set multiple records in junior high track and have played winter club with coach Guhr.
The freshmen are twins Aimee and Abbigail Funk, Logan Bryant and Brooklyn Wuest, Savanna’s sister. The sophomores are Alyson Roberts and Alece Lehrman. Goessel has four juniors with Ashley Rosfeld, Emma Schroeder, Sarah Spurlin and Rylee Walker. The Bluebirds have four seniors: Guhr, Emily Flaming, Rachael Zogleman, and Lyna McCombs.
Goessel is in second place in the Class 1A, Division I Canton-Galva sub-state. Little River is 25-3, and St. John is 15-10. LR is ranked second in Class 1A, Division I. St. John, paced by Darby Smith, is the defending third place team in the classification. Little River recently captured the Wheat State League title. Little River has won nine straight.
Senior Lily Boughfman has 243 kills with a .325 attack percentage. Sophomores Alaina Eck and 5-11 Aubrey Olander have combined for 279 kills. The 6-1 Boughfman is approaching 1,000 kills, 1,000 digs and 200 aces in her career, per her last three years on MaxPreps. She has 890 kills, 764 digs and 160 aces. Boughfman hit .209 last year and is up to .325 this fall.
Meade are back-to-back SPIAA league champions and stand at 29-1. Senior setter Kiana Unruh went over 2,000 career assists. Meade, which co-ops with Fowler, has won eight in a row. Meade has six seniors: Unruh, libero Allie Miller, Melia Friesen, Kylin Rudzik, Shelby Christensen and Meagan Reimer. Christensen has 223 kills and a .253 average, and Rudzik has 202 kills with a .238 average. Meade is an impressive plus-100 in aces to errors at 210-110. Miller paces with 305 digs, 4.9 per set.
Sterling senior setter Bennie Horsch went over 2,000 career assists. Sterling is loaded in volleyball and basketball after it won 2A state basketball last winter. The Black Bears are 25-7, 14-2 in Heart of America play.
Sterling has standout freshman Lily Gray with 268 kills and a .297 attack percentage. Plus, senior Makenna Linden has 138 kills, Horsch has 126 and senior Kali Briar, the reigning SIK 2A Basketball Player of the Year, has 118 kills.
Gray is among the state’s leaders with 93 blocks. Five players have at least 100 digs. Linden paces with 305, Briar has 297, Horsch has 185, senior Sadie Beagley has 157 and senior Lacey Farney has 102. Horsch has 629 assists.
Rossville junior Brinley Dyche has cleared 1,000 career digs. Rossville is 21-5 after 21-18 and 25-10 marks the previous two seasons. Dyche has 288 digs for 5.2 per set. The 5-foot-4 Dyche has delivered at least 341 digs per season.
Inman junior setter Daityn Raney, who plays all the way around this season, has more than 600 assists in 2021 and above 1,300 in her career.
Newton coach Jamie Dibbens has reached 500 career wins with the Railers.
Nickerson with big last week; ends losing streak with Hutchinson and Bishop Carroll, shows support for Nelson
Last weekend, Nickerson finished second in the McPherson tournament with victories against Bishop Carroll, Goddard, Hutchinson, Garden Plain and a loss to McPherson. Nickerson defeated Hutchinson, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23. Last week, Nickerson had special Gold Out Night in a triangular sweep versus Hesston and Larned.
In the triangular, the student section showed support for Hadley Nelson, who lost her battle to cancer. Nelson was a junior at Nickerson who was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma her freshman year. She’s been battling and undergoing treatments and surgeries for the past two years but sadly recently lost her battle.
Nickerson stands at 26-8. The Panthers had lost seven in a row to Hutchinson dating back before 2007. The Panthers had dropped five in a row to Bishop Carroll dating back to 2012. In the BC match, Nickerson won 23-25, 25-10, 25-20.
Those were the two longest current losing streaks for Nickerson against any opponent.
Junior Ava Jones finished with 27 serve returns, 19 kills, 14 digs, five blocks and a .441 average versus BC. Senior Kaytlyn Daines delivered three aces. Junior Josie McLean has 27 assists, and sophomore Destiny Ponds finished with 13 serve-returns.
Versus Hutchinson, Jones delivered 13 kills and six blocks. Nickerson finished with a remarkable 103 digs. Jones had 31 and Ponds delivered 24. Senior Kieryn Ontjes, McLean, Daines and sophomore Kalyse Abernathy all finished between 10 and 13 digs.
This is by far the most of any match for Nickerson this year.
McLean finished with 28 assists. McLean (547 assists) and Hutchinson senior setter Kaitlin Yoder (580 assists this year) are two of the state’s top setters. The pair has combined for more than 2,500 career assists.
Nickerson coach Payton Scheer noted that Abernathy played all the way around and was “awesome.” Normally, Abernathy just plays on the front row. Sophomore Avery Hambrick suffered an ankle sprain the week before and had just one practice before the McPherson tournament. Sophomore Ayla Ontjes and junior Lauren Nelson bumped up from the JV.
“All the girls stepped up and played really well,” Scheer said.
Other Top Performers
Mila Seaton set the school record for Basehor-Linwood kills. The previous record was 782 kills. Seaton, just a junior, has 310 kills this season for the 27-8 Bobcats. Seaton has 849 kills in three seasons. B-L junior Taylor Cruse had committed to Ohio State softball, and senior Audrey Spellman committed to University of St. Mary softball. B-L softball went 21-4 and was the 5A runner-up last spring to Bishop Carroll.
Cruse is currently second in Kansas with 736 assists. Spellman is among the team’s dig leaders at 151.
Hiawatha, which will be featured later this week on SIK, won the Atchison tournament with victories against Horton, Maur Hill, Paola, Atchison and Paola again in the final.
Hesston won the Council Grove tournament, and Southern Coffey County went 4-0 with the Uniontown tournament. Ness City won the Ringneck Classic volleyball tournament. NC is 18-9 with seven seniors: Taylor Starr, Zoe Seib, Caidyn Horton, Kennedy Liggett, 5-11 middle Alexa Reinhardt, Amy Foos and Samantha Kleweno. Seib is the team captain. NC has had a nice turnaround after a 12-15 season last year that ended in seven straight losses.
2021 Leaders (top-15)
Budke, Beloit, 497
Brown, Beloit, 373
Thomasson, Riverton, 366
Schutter, Wabaunsee, 342
Harris, Atchison, 338
Keebaugh, Ottawa, 326
Martin, Aquinas, 314
Ronnebaum, Marysville, 313
Seaton, Basehor-Linwood, 310
Bell, Gardner-Edgerton, 309
Vilott, SM Northwest, 307
Cullen, Girard, 298
Knobbe, Sylvan-Lucas, 282
Heinson, Kiowa County, 281
Jackson, Lansing, .476
Heinson, Kiowa County, .460
Thomasson, Riverton, .430
Harris, Atchison, .402
Afonja, Baldwin, .400
Ronnebaum, Marysville, .386
Rentschler, Smith Center, .386
Madsen, Hiawatha, .377
Holle, Hanover, .370
Lewis, Burlingame, .369
VanGorp, Heritage Christian, .365
Goodenow, Aquinas, .365
Bruna, Hanover, .357
Mae Van der Werf, Lansing, .356
Stover, Neodesha, .349
Creason, SM Northwest, 832
Cruse, Basehor-Linwood, 736
Evans, Ottawa, 720
Bishop, Lansing, 690
Gardner, Spring Hill, 658
Wedman, Blue Valley West, 656
Heft, Kiowa County, 635
Cummins, Olathe North, 632
Horsch, Sterling, 629
Rader, Marysville, 627
Hamblin, Frontenac, 616
Lehman, Goodland, 611
Unruh, Meade, 604
Hottenstein, Humboldt, 599
Suderman, Hillsboro, 593
Schutter, Wabaunsee, 131
Afonja, Baldwin, 123
Warren, Olathe West, 111
Coughlin, Olpe, 104
Hawkinson, Elyria Christian, 99
Mackiewicz, SM Northwest, 97
Gray, Sterling, 93
Alt, Herington, 92
Schurle, Clay Center, 87
Igo, Derby, 87
McDonald, SM East, 85
Hermreck, Olathe West, 83
Sappington, SM Christian, 82
Umberger, SM Christian, 82
Tolle, Smoky Valley, 75
Bruce, Atchison, 99
Harris, Atchison, 81
Heglin, Syracuse, 70
Cook, Coffeyville, 70
Ricke, Wichita County, 66
Dimitt, Ellinwood, 62
Thomasson, Riverton, 62
Swingle, Attica, 60
Peterson, Mill Valley, 58
Campbell, Kiowa County, 57
Knipp, Basehor-Linwood, 56
Garcia, Flinthills, 56
Jones, Holcomb, 55
Wadley, W. Southeast, 55
McMillan, Beloit, 490
Koontz, Newton, 455
Kieffer, SM Northwest, 447
Acree, Concordia, 391
Rutschman, Herington, 378
Foster, Derby, 371
Williams, Udall, 369
Clemence, Abilene, 361
Hoffman, Udall, 350
Atkins, Hanover, 346
Pearson, Blue Valley Northwest, 344
Curtis, Winfield, 343
Dean, Labette County, 343
Poje, Tonganoxie, 337