Eagles carry tradition into state tournament

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

 

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Uniontown High’s Eagles collected a Kansas Class 2A Substate Volleyball Tournament championship last weekend. That put them in the Kansas Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament in Hays Friday and Saturday. Members of the 2009 team are (left to right) back row, Tiffany Poyner, Megan Schnichels, Jessica Schaaf, Candice Clayton, Abbie Smith, Jessica Camac, Jessica Harrison; front row, Tayler Shook, Jacy Ermel, Jessica Murrow, Ashely Nietfeld, Hope Jurgensen.

Year in and year out, Uniontown High’s volleyball teams are very competitive. The Eagles have a rich tradition in volleyball and it shows.
Uniontown’s 2009 edition of Eagle volleyball posted a 33-5 mark, which included a three-match sweep through last Saturday’s Kansas Class 2A Substate Volleyball Tournament.
The Eagles earned a berth in this weekend’s 2009 Kansas Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament.
“It was amazing to win the substate against Pittsburg-Colgan on their court last week. They had beaten us here last year in the substate championship so it was sweet,” said senior Abbie Smith, the only player on the squad who went to the state tournament the last time the Eagles made the trip to Hays, 2006.
“I was a freshman and I was just along for the ride. But it was cool to play with my older sister that year.”
Uniontown left today headed to Hays for the state tournament. The Eagles open state tournament pool play at 4:30 p.m. Friday against Moundridge.
The Eagles were the No. 3 seed in the eight-team tournament. There are three pool matches to play and the top two teams from each pool advance to the semifinals on Saturday.
Uniontown has made it to state seven times — 1990, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2009 — under the direction of head coach Jackie Hall, who is in her 27th year of coaching.
“We’ve won a game but never a match at state. We’re really working hard to get that first match then move to the next one,” Hall said.
“Hustle and heart set US apart.” That’s on the back of the Eagles’ team shirts.
“Their friendship and closeness as a team makes them successful. They don’t care who gets the kills, the blocks, the ‘glory’ so to speak. It’s all about team,” Hall said.
“They work extremely hard every day but they also like to get together for fun things off the court. They support each other.”
Senior Candice Clayton said winning the substate and going to state was a great way to finish out her senior season.
“I think it is how well we all get along that keys our success. We communicate well on and off the court. It’s pretty exciting,” Clayton said.
“We were jumping and down and there was a lot of screaming,” said Jessica Schaaf, the only other senior of the team. “This team has worked hard to get here and we have a lot of heart as a team.”
Smith said she wanted her teammates to experience being in a state tournament.
“We know teams are very good in the state tournament. We’ve talked about they are going to be bigger than us but we’re just as good and we have the potential to do well,” Smith said.
Hall said the team has talked of the bigger teams and that they all hit hard.
“Our blocking has to be there and when we get touches, we need to play great defense behind the blockers,” Hall said. “We have to dig out their hits and take other teams out of their systems.”
Uniontown has a couple of big hitters of their own in Smith and sophomore Jacy Ermel. Ermel had 24 kills against Pittsburg-Colgan in the substate championship mach. Smith had a total of 34 kills in three matches at the substate.
“They both hit from the left side and middle. We’re working on several new hitting rotations. Tayler Shook has done a great job setting the ball for us this season.
“We have to be stronger in serve-receive.”
Hall pointed to the players who have come off the bench throughout the season for the Eagles as key. This season has been a total team effort, Hall said.
As with every other team, Uniontown had to deal with the flu bug this fall. Hall said they seemed to be healthy going in to the state tournament.
“These girls have become students of the game. We work on the fundamentals and that’s what builds a program. I’m proud of all of the girls on the team and we’re looking forward to a good showing at state,” Hall said.
Others on the team headed to state are juniors Jessica Harrison, Jessie Camac, Tiffany Poyner and Megan Schnichels, sophomores Ermel and Shook, Ashley Nietfeld, Hope Jurgensen, and Jessica Murrow.


Kansas Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament at Hays
Friday
Court A
3:30 p.m.—(1) Oberlin (36-1) vs. (8) Sacred Heart (25-12)
4:30 p.m.—(4) Spearville (31-7) vs. (5) Valley Heights (32-9)
5:30 p.m.—Oberlin vs. Valley Heights
6:30 p.m.—Spearville vs. Sacred Heart
7:30 p.m.—Oberlin vs. Spearville
8:30 p.m.—Valley Heights vs. Sacred Heart
Court B
3:30 p.m.—(2) Lebo (35-4) vs. (7) Oskaloosa (30-10)
4:30 p.m.—(3) Uniontown (30-10) vs. (6) Moundridge (31-9)
5:30 p.m.—Lebo vs. Moundridge
6:30 p.m.—Uniontown vs. Oskaloosa
7:30 p.m.—Lebo vs. Uniontown
8:30 p.m.—Moundridge vs. Oskaloosa

Saturday
2 p.m.—Semifinals, with championship and third-place matches 15 minutes after the semifinals are completed.