GYPSUM — Once the foundation quit shaking after top-seed Marion was upset by No. 8-seed Halstead in the first match of Saturday’s Class 3A Regional Volleyball Tournament, that meant the door was wide open.
In stepped the Hesston Swathers.
The Swathers, the No. 4-seed, knocked off arch-rival Halstead in the semifinals (25-17, 25-20) and then defeated No. 2-seed Southeast of Saline for the title, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21. Hesston had won its opening match from Trinity in a tough three-setter (25-27, 25-21, 25-20). This will be the second straight year the Swathers have advanced.
Southeast had won 29 of its previous 30 matches and earlier had knocked off the Swathers in the regular season.
“Southeast of Saline played well when we met them about two weeks ago, but we had led one of the sets the entire way before falling apart at the end, so we knew we had the potential to compete with them,” Hesston coach Jason Peters said. “In the first set, we gave them too many opportunities to attack and we struggled to get around their good blocks in all locations across the net. We fell behind 1-7 and never could really make much of a run to get closer then two or three points the rest of the way. In the second set, we got an early lead by playing better defense and continuing to attack, and we maintained a five-point lead throughout most of that set. In the deciding set, we led 9-5, but Southeast came back to lead 14-16 before we stepped up the intensity and went on a run to take a 19-16 lead. They got as close as one point, but we never gave up the lead and won the sub-state title with a tremendous team effort and perseverance.”
The exhausting day was well worth it, Peters said.
“We had plenty of ups and downs during the day, but the girls did an amazing job of never quitting, even when our season could have come to an end on several occasions,” he said. “This team has battled back in numerous matches like these throughout this season, and continues to step up and support and encourage each other, even when it would be easy to become frustrated and give up. We spent a total of 8 hours in the gym to earn a trip to state, and despite being completely exhausted physically and mentally throughout a grueling day, the girls never let up and were able to continue a great season for one more week.”
The Swathers, 29-10, are the No. 5 seed at the state meet that begins Friday at Emporia. They play Wellsville (31-8) at 9:30 a.m., Silver Lake (38-2) at 10:30 and Sterling (21-16) at 12:30.
Kailey Jo Ince had 48 kills in the three matches as she had a spectacular day and Cami Richardson added 40. Alaina Dunlavy notched 89 assists and she also had 32 digs. Kylie Brenneman added 27 digs.