HAVEN — Saturday’s championship match of the Central Kansas League Preseason Volleyball Tournament had the feeling of a state championship match.
Hesston and Kingman, both hoping to be playing on the final Saturday of the season in late October, clashed for the title.
Kingman came away with a 25-16, 25-17 success against the No. 1-ranked Swathers.
“This tournament was a good start to our season and it was good to see our inexperienced players be able to step up and compete well at the varsity level,” said Hesston coach Jason Peters, whose team was second in the state last year in Class 3A. “We have a good idea of the things we now need to focus on in the coming weeks, with several non-league matches coming up this week to help us gain more experience and confidence before our regular-season league schedule starts on Sept. 5.”
The Swathers coasted in pool play with wins over Lyons (25-10, 25-18), Halstead (25-9, 25-11) and Hillsboro (25-6, 25-12). In the bracket play quarterfinals, the Swathers trounced Hoisington (25-9, 25-11) and then needed three sets to get past pesky Nickerson (13-25, 25-22, 25-22). The Panthers were third in Class 4A Division II last year and return most of their firepower.
“After an exhausting semifinal with Nickerson, we seemed to be a step slow against a strong Kingman team that played very well,” Peters said. “They have solid hitters at every position and strong passers. They didn’t allow us a single ace during the match, and continued to attack and keep us off-balance. We never got a chance to get going in the first set, but played even with them halfway through the second set until they went on several runs that we were not able to match.”
Hesston dives right back into action Tuesday playing at Conway Springs, with Moundridge rounding out the triangular field. The Swathers then make their home debut Thursday with a tri against Trinity Catholic and Minneapolis.