Lady Titans ready for first volleyball state

By JOCELYN SHEETS
Register Sports Editor

 

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Southern Coffey County High’s Lady Titans won a Kansas Class 1A Substate Volleyball Championship earning a berth at the Class 1A state tournament. Members of the team are (left to right), front row, Lauren Isch, Kristen Gardland, Kaity Isch, Shelby Birk, Sam Jacob, Jenna Witteman; back row, Ashton Gudenkauf, Laurie Ohl, Kaitlin Meyer, Kandace Shields, Kristen Stephens, Brooke Scheele.

Southern Coffey County High’s Lady Titans have never been to a state volleyball tournament. They have been to a state basketball tournament, a year ago.
“We learned not to be overwhelmed by state. We need to take it one game at a time and one match at a time,” said senior setter Kristin Garland.
“We’re just as good as any other team there.”
Garland and six other seniors are helping the Lady Titans draw on last year’s trip to the Kansas Class 1A State Basketball Tournament to help them prepare for this weekend’s 2009 Kansas Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament.
Southern Coffey County broke through and one its first Class 1A substate volleyball championship last Saturday. They had been substate runner-up the past three years.
The Lady Titans earned the No. 2 overall seed at this weekend’s state tournament in Hays. They amassed a 38-4 record.
Southern Coffey County opens state tournament pool play against Weskan at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Each team plays three pool matches and the top two teams from each pool advances to Saturday’s semifinals and finals.
The tournament is at Fort Hays State University’s Gross Memorial Coliseum. That’s the same place the Lady Titans played their state basketball tournament in March.
“We’ve seen the gym and know how the crowd is there,” said Laurie Ohl, another senior. “Now we know how a state tournament feels so we won’t be so awed by the experience and we can play. All the teams are 0-0 going into the tournament. That’s how we’re looking at it.”
Other seniors on the team are Lauren Isch, Kaitlin Meyer, Kaity Isch, Kandace Shields and Shelby Birk. Also on the team going to state are juniors Sam Jacob, Kristin Stephens, Brooke Scheele and sophomores Ashton Gudenkauf and Jenna Witteman.
Most of those players were also the the basketball team.
“Three things about this team that has led to their success this year. First, opportunity that we were good enough to put ourselves in to matches that made us better. Second, playing in the Lyon County League helped us night after night. From top to bottom, the nine league teams are tough and competitive,” said Korey Lankton, third-year head coach of the Lady Titans.
“And third, we’re capable of digging against very hard hitters. In our league, every team had at least one girl that could really hit the ball hard. Playing against Uniontown in their tournament helped us because they have strong hitters.”
Not in the seven-year history of Southern Coffey County High School has a volleyball team gone to state. But Lady Titan teams have gone to 1A substate five years in that span. SCCH is a combination of students from Le Roy and Gridley.
“This group is just mentally tough. This week we’re focusing on not being content about where we are. We want to peak this weekend,” Lankton said.
“We have a tough pool and we’re going to have to play well.”
Meyer, who is pretty laid back, had the stuff block to end last Saturday’s substate championship match.
“That was pretty exciting. It was definitely an adrenaline rush,” Meyer said. “Getting to state was always a goal of ours since we started playing volleyball together.”
“That was sixth grade when they combined the schools,” said Garland. “I guess I see the difference in our team as with our quickness. We spread the ball around and mix it up on who’s going to hit. We have a good passing team also.”
“Confidence is a key for our team. At substate, we had a great crowd there and they got into the match. Finally after four years in the substate final, our hard work and sweat paid off,” Birk said.
Kaity Isch and Lauren Isch come off the bench. Lauren is the team’s libero.
“I go in with a positive attitude and it doesn’t bother me to go in for anyone on the back row,” Lauren said. “We were pretty excited about winning the substate.
“Now we’re talking that it’s a clean slate for every team going into the state.”
“I come off the bench to play center back. The crowd was great at substate and all of us on the bench were excited as we got the stuff block for the final point,” Kaity said.
Shields is an outside and middle hitter.
“As a team we work hard and push each other to be better. We’re a pretty close bunch of players. Winning substate to go to state, is exciting and I’m glad we got it done our senior year,” Shields said.

Kansas Class 1A State Volleyball Tournament at Hays
Friday

Court A
8:30 a.m.—(1) Central Christian (39-2) vs. (8) Hoxie (21-15)
9:30 a.m.—(4) Frankfort (36-7) vs. (5) Pratt Skyline (33-7)
10:30 a.m.—Central Christian vs. Pratt Skyline
11:30 a.m.—Frankfort vs. Hoxie
12:30 p.m.—Central Christian vs. Frankfort
1:30 p.m.—Pratt Skyline vs. Hoxie
Court B
8:30 a.m.—(2) Southern Coffey County (38-4) vs. (7) Weskan (33-10)
9:30 a.m.—(3) Centralia (38-5) vs. (6) St. John (32-8)
10:30 a.m.—Southern Coffey County vs. St. John
11:30 a.m.—Centralia vs. Weskan
12:30 p.m.—Southern Coffey County vs. Centralia
1:30 p.m.—St. John vs. Weskan

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