Lady Titans break through, win first 1A substate title

Register Sports Editor

ROSALIA — Three times before the Southern Coffey County High Lady Titans had reached a substate volleyball tournament championship match only to come up short.
Not Saturday. The Lady Titans captured the 2009 Kansas Class 1A Substate Volleyball Tournament title. At Flinthills High, Southern Coffey County outlasted Norwich 23-25, 25-10, 25-19 for the championship.
“The key to the whole match was gaining momentum toward the end of the first set,” said Korey Lankton, Lady Titan head coach. “The second and third sets were SCC volleyball.”
Lankton said the Lady Titans made a lot of un-forced errors in the first set. Lankton said Norwich had a great student section and “I think it helped them. They played great ball on top of it and covered the floor well. We pressed a little too hard to try for quick points.”
Lankton said the Lady Titans erased a seven-point deficit to tie up the first set. He said even though his team didn’t win that set, the girls were playing better ball.
Southern Coffey County put things together to win the next two sets.
Kristen Garland provided 29 set assists for the Lady Titans in the title match. Shelby Birk delivered 14 kills and Sam Jacob had eight kills.
Kaitlin Meyer had three blocks and Laurie Ohl had two blocks. Ashton Guden-kauf came up with eight digs and Jenna Witteman had six digs.
“Shelby and Sam were hitting with a rhythm, Kaitlin and Laurie controlled the nets defensively. Kristen was coming up with good sets and our passing was really good,” Lankton said of the last two sets.
“Ashton and Jenna don’t get a lot of credit statistically but they made some great plays. Kaitlin, Laurie, Shelby and Sam stepped up their passing.”
Southern Coffey County opened Saturday’s play with a 25-7, 25-21 win over Elyria Christian. Garland had 23 assists while Birk put down 11 kills. Ohl had eight kills. Meyer had one block and five digs and Jacob had four service aces.
“It definitely felt like ‘survival week.’ Sickness and a couple of injuries slowed our chances of preparation but the girls handled the pressure. Each of them play a very important role on this team,” Lankton said.
Crest High’s Lady Lan-cers lost to Norwich in the opening round, 25-17, 25-15. Melissa Honn had 15 digs and two kills for Crest. Ashley Catt had eight digs and six set assists.
Amanda Strickler delivered seven kills plus had six digs, one ace serve and four assists. Tessa Louk made two blocks and had two kills. Caitlin Golden and Katrina Strickler each had one kill.
“Going to substate was an awesome experience for this team,” said Shelly Strickler, Crest head coach. “Some of the girls handled it very well and some were too nervous. I’m proud of this team. They worked very hard throughout the season.”
Strickler said the Lady Lancers made too many unforced errors, such as serving 84 percent, to beat a team as sound as Norwich. She said Honn played a great defensive match. She said A. Strickler and Louk had strong matches at the net for Crest.
Crest finished at 23-16.
Southern Coffey County improved to 38-4, which earned them the No. 2 seed at the Kansas Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament in Hays. The top seed is Central Christian (39-2) of Hutchinson.
The state tournament is divided into four-team pools. The top two teams from Friday’s pool play advance to semifinals on Saturday. The third-place and championship matches also are Saturday.
Southern Coffey County opens pool play against Weskan (33-10) at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Fort Hays State’s Gross Memorial Coliseum. The Lady Titans play St. John-Hudson (32-8) at 10:30, then Centralia (38-5) at 12:30 p.m.