Hesston spikers fall to No. 1 Abilene in tourney finals

By Steve Sell
October 09, 2016

COUNCIL GROVE — Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked volleyball team Abilene knocked off Hesston in the finals of the Council Grove Invitational on Saturday after the Swathers had won their first four matches.

Hesston went 3-0 in pool play with wins over Santa Fe Trail (25-16, 25-18), Clay Center (25-17, 25-15) and Council Grove (25-20, 25-17).

In the semifinals, the Swathers turned back Sacred Heart (25-12, 25-18).

Hesston put up a good fight against Abilene, but the Cowgirls won in straight sets (25-17, 25-14).

Three teams in this tournament placed in the top four at state in their respective classes last year.

“Abilene is the No. 1-ranked team in 4A Division I for a reason,” Hesston coach Jason Peters said. “And they played extremely well in the championship match. Their defense is strong and they pass very well and our serving didn’t lead to as many out-of-system balls as previous opponents. They also have several hitters who played very well against us and made it difficult for our defense to adjust to their attacks.”

Hesston’s Kailey Jo Ince was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player as she had 79 kills in the five matches. Alaina Dunlavy had an even 100 assists on the day, while Ince had 33 digs and Dunlavy had 25.

The Swathers are now 24-4 on the season and go to Lyons on Tuesday, with state-ranked Smoky Valley rounding out the triangular.

“Overall this was a great tournament for us to see good competition and force us to play at a higher level, which we did throughout the day,” Peters said. “We are making progress and will hopefully get to where we need to be for the postseason.”

Also of note, the Hesston JV’s won the Halstead Tournament and improved to 27-4 on the season. It’s the second year in a row the Swathers have won this tournament.