Holton Volleyball at State in Salina
Although the Holton High School varsity volleyball team didn’t advance to the semi-finals at the Class 4A-DII state tournament this past weekend in Salina, the team did end its season with a win against Frontenac.
The Lady Wildcats were 1-2 during pool play Friday as they fell to Burlington and Nickerson at the Tony Pizza’s Event Center in Salina.
“Since I’ve started coaching at Holton, I’ve wanted to get a team to state and give them a taste of it so they’ll want to go back,” said HHS head coach Janelle Noel. “We have a young group of girls and now they know what I’m talking about when we talk about state and what it takes to get there.”
Due to some games going long in the Class 4A-DI tournament, which were held prior to the Class 4A-DII tournament, Holton’s first game, which was against Burlington, was pushed back two hours.
“We showed up to Salina early in order to watch a game before ours,” Noel said. “We had all this adrenaline, and we were ready to go and then we had to wait and wait, and it just kind of killed that momentum.”
Burlington led the entire first game and won 25-16.
“I knew we would be nervous, and I expected the first few points not to be the best because none of these girls had played in a state tournament before,” Noel said. “It took us a while to get out of that and play, and when we finally started playing, it was a little too late.”
In the second game, Holton took an early lead, 9-5, which forced Burlington into a timeout. Burlington quickly took four points after the break, and the two teams battled point for point until Burlington took the win, 29-27.
“When we get that close, instead of playing aggressive, we play it safe,” Noel said. “We got a little timid and didn’t want to make a mistake so we weren’t hitting as much.”
Holton’s second match was against Nickerson, who came out strong and won the first game 25-10.
“We knew that they would be tough,” Noel said. “They had a lot of girls that could hit. It was almost like we were trying to overplay or overthink, and we needed to relax and play and do what we’ve done all year.”
In the second game, the Lady Wildcats hung close to the Lady Panthers but fell 25-22.
Holton’s last match of the day was against Frontenac, who was also looking for their first win of the day.
“At this point, the girls were down and knew that they weren’t going on to Saturday,” Noel said. “I told the girls that we didn’t come this far and work this hard this season to walk away from state without a win. We also talked about finishing out the season with a win. Not many people get to finish their season with a win and not many people get to do it at state.”
The Lady Raiders took the first game 25-18, but Holton rallied and won the next two games, 26-24 and 25-23, to take the win.
A large group of students and fans drove from Holton to attend Friday’s tournament.
“We appreciate our student section and fan base so much,” Noel said. “We had community support that was loud and encouraging.”
Nickerson and Burlington advanced to Saturday’s semi-finals, where Nickerson took second after falling to Topeka-Hayden, the defending state champs.
Holton’s outside hitter, Regan Baum, a junior, was named to the Class 4A-DII all-tournament team for her efforts at the tournament.
Holton ended its season with an overall 24-19 record and took third in the Big Seven League.
Senior members on the HHS team include Shay Tanking, who’s played varsity since her freshman year; Sarah Lierz, Emma Gilliland, Janae Skaggs, Maleah Price and Emma Reith.
“I’ve talked to the girls about the start of the season and the way it started,” Noel said. “We had a rough start, and after that, a lot of teams could have given up and been done. But we peaked as the season went on. We got better and better. We finished with a winning record, and we made it to the state tournament. We didn’t give up.”
Class 4A-DII State Scores
Topeka-Hayden def. Holcomb: 25-12 and 25-11.
Wichita-Trinity Academy def. Baldwin: 25-6 and 25-18.
Holcomb def. Baldwin 25-12 and 25-11.
Topeka-Hayden def. Wichita-Trinity Academy: 25-15 and 25-16.
Topeka-Hayden def. Baldwin: 25-12 and 25-10.
Wichita-Trinity Academy def. Holcomb: 25-12 and 25-15.
Burlington def. Holton: 25-16 and 29-27.
Nickerson def. Frontenac: 25-5 and 25-9.
Burlington def. Frontenac: 25-10, 22-25 and 25-11.
Nickerson def. Holton: 25-10 and 25-22.
Holton def. Frontenac: 18-25, 26-24 and 25-23.
Nickerson def. Burlington: 25-20 and 25-17.
Nickerson def. Wichita-Trinity Academy: 25-21 and 25-23.
Topeka-Hayden def. Burlington: 25-9 and 25-17.
Topeka-Hayden def. Nickerson: 25-18 and 25-23.
Wichita-Trinity Academy def. Burlington: 27-25 and 25-16.