Category Archives: Volleyball
In the Garden (City)
I spent much of yesterday feeling very guilty.
The first thing Crista told me when we started our session was that she saw Norton play Smith Center in the third place match of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament last Saturday. If you recall, I did not go to the MCL tournament the second day, although I did go the first, which coincided with my birthday.
I wish I had been there Saturday. I would have loved to introduce Crista to Peggy and Caitlyn. Now I feel terrible about not going.
I was pretty certain I was going to Norton’s sub-state in Lakin tomorrow, but when Crista told me that, it cemented it.
To that end, I’m now in Garden City, 30 miles east of Lakin on US 50. It was a three-hour drive from Russell, I-70 to Oakley and US 83 down. The TownePlace Suites, where I’ve stayed before, is on K-156, the road which heads towards Jetmore, Larned and Great Bend. I could have saved a few miles if I had taken US 281 from Russell to Great Bend, then K-156 all the way down, but I figured the way I went saved some time.
I passed a tanker about a mile south of Oakley on 83. He was throwing rocks. IDIOT. Every time I then dropped to 65, he would tailgate me. I was ready to call the Kansas Highway Patrol and report him, but after crossing into Scott County, he disappeared from my rear view mirror.
Lucky I passed through Scott City. I had something I forgot to mail in Russell. Better I drop it off than keep carrying it in my car, although it wasn’t super important.
Norton plays Hoisington tomorrow following the completion of the match between Lakin and Syracuse, which begins at 2 p.m. on the east court.
TMP, which is 34-2 and the top seed, plays on the West court at 2 vs. Southwestern Heights. The second match on the West court is Hugoton vs. Cimarron.
The TMP-Southwestern Heights and Hugoton-Cimarron winners play on the West court in one semifinal, while the Norton-Hoisington and Lakin-Syracuse winners play on the East court in the semis. The championship is on the West court.
The winner advances to the Class 3A state tournament next Friday and Saturday at Emporia.
Norton hasn’t been to a state tournament since 2007, when Caitlyn’s sister, Courtney (Otto), was a senior. The Bluejays were 10-20 heading into sub-state, but beat Lakin, Cimarron and Phillipsburg to advance. The state tournament wasn’t so good, with Norton going 0-3, but it was remarkable to make it.
The 22-13 record Norton carries into sub-state is the best for the school since 2005, when Caitlyn’s OTHER sister, Chelsea (Funk), was a senior. Norton has generally had great success in all other sports, winning state championships in both boys and girls track in the years I’ve been here, in addition to seven wrestling championships in 11 seasons, but volleyball somehow has been left behind.
It could be much worse. Some schools have very little athletic success. Like one I’m very familiar with.
The next time Norton has an event in Hays isn’t until Feb. 3, when the Bluejays play basketball at TMP. I will remind Crista many times. .
I’m going to find a place to play Buzztime this evening. Either I’m going to Buffalo Wild Wings, which recently opened, or Old Chicago. Those are the only locales in Garden City, but hey, it’s better than Hays, where the only place you can play now is the Fort Hays Student Union, and I’m sure they hate non-students going in there. Therefore, the closest place to Russell to play is Buffalo Wild Wings in Salina.
Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t a Buzztime location in Hays. I might spend too much time there and stay too late, which would disrupt my sleep patterns. It’s just too bad the best games are at night, which force me to drive I-70 between Salina and Russell at night. It’s a boring stretch any time, but it’s dangerous at night.
I’ve learned to cut myself off in Kansas City. Never later than 10, usually earlier. And staying very close to Zona Rosa helps.
I have a stop to make at Dillon’s to buy Caitlyn’s teammates some Gatorade for tomorrow. High is supposed to be around 27 Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), which is absolutely absurd for October 22. They’ll need hydration, even though Lakin’s gym is air conditioned. I already bought Caitlyn’s grape Gatorade in Oakley when I stopped for gas and to use the restroom.
I’m hoping I’m not back in Garden City too early tomorrow evening. Bad news if I am.
Wall-to-wall football, day two
I saw plenty of football yesterday, especially from 11 am until 8:30 pm, the time I spent at Buffalo Wild Wings.
I had enough when Alabama started beating the stuffing out of Arkansas. The Crimson Tife won (again) 49-30, and if they lose in 2016, it will be a miracle. Who can beat them? I don’t think Tennessee can. I don’t think Texas A&M can. Not LSU. And certainly not Mississippi State or Auburn. Why bother watching the rest of the college football season? We know who will win the championship game January 9 in Tampa.
Today it’s more football, this time NFL-style. The Chiefs are off, so Buffalo Wild Wings might not be as crowded, but it should pick up later when the Broncos play the Falcons. The night game is Giants-Packers in Green Bay. The Cardinals played and won Thursday at Santa Clara vs. the 49ers, so there’s no stress today.
Hopefully Robb and Dawn show up. It’s the main reason I come to Kansas City now. I still know a few Buffalo Wild Wings employees–Morgan, Molly, Ethan, Sekou, Arlene and Megan, plus the mangers–but Liz, Lisa, Jaclyn, Shannon, Alex, Stephanie Suggs and Raymie are gone, as well as both Brittanys.
I’m probably not staying as late this evening, but I could. I’ve got a lot of work done for Osborne, and what’s left I can knock out quickly.
I still want to drive to Columbia at some point to get the thing I can’t get in Kansas City, Lawrence, Topeka, Salina, Russell, Hays or anywhere. The only options are going to Nebraska one day, or maybe they have it in Colorado. I need to get to Colorado, anyway, to see Liz, whom I have not seen since July 2015. She’s not happy about that, and neither am I.
Norton’s volleyball team went 2-3 in Scott City yesterday. Peggy and Caitlyn were not happy about having to play five matches in a single day. Three of those went the full three sets.
There is a provision in the National Federation rules which allow matches to be modified, but the Kansas State High School Activities Association refuses to do so. In Louisiana, the third set of regular season tournaments is only played to 15. I didn’t think it was allowable, but I discovered last night in reading the rules it is.
Also, the KSHSAA doesn’t allow two-day tournaments, except for leagues which have nine or more teams. In Louisiana, I never saw a team play more than four matches in one day, and there were lots of two-day tournaments. When Brenda was coaching St. Joseph’s Academy, the Redstickers played in FOUR two-day events, and the JV played in one in Hammond for a few years.
The Mid-Continent League tournament went to two days in 2014, when Trego returned afte a one-year hiatus and Oakley and TMP joined, giving the league 10 teams. Instead of two play-in matches, the format which was used from 1978 through 2004, the principals and athletic directors took the advice of the volleyball coaches and went to two five-team pools. Teams play two pool matches Thursday and two Saturday morning before cutting down to four.
Tom Brady is back today. The Cleveland Browns are in big trouble if they weren’t already.
Get out of dodge
My day at Scott City is going to end a little earlier, but way too late still.
Phillipsburg could not complete the deal after taking the first set from Hoisington. The Cardinals rallied to win the final two sets and the match 19-25, 26-24,
It will be Lakin and Hoisington for the championship. The Panthers’ season ends at 19-18.
The Mid-Continent League will be represented by two teams at state tournaments, league champion TMP-Marian in Class 4A-Division II at Salina and Smith Center in Class 2A at Emporia.
I’m heading for Garden City. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood. Probably not. Especially if the Royals take the lead.
Five hours in
The quarterfinals are in the books at Scott City. Phillipsburg ousted Cimarron 25-16, 25-17 to clinch the final spot in the semifinals vs. Hoisington. The first semi between Lakin and Norton is going on right now.
If I get out of here early, it will only be because Phillipsburg loses to Hoisington. I’m not counting on that happening, so I’m here until the end. If I’m going to be here until the end, Phillipsburg had better win.
That wasn’t the case the last time I was in Scott City for sub-state volleyball. In 2006, the Panthers made it to the final, but ran into an Oberlin buzzsaw which featured Miki Dorshorst, who went on to play at Wyoming. I remember not checking into the hotel at Garden City until after 10, which may be the case again tonight.
It looks like I’m going to have an early Friday morning at Emporia on the docket. Smith Center won the first set over Ness City 25-20. If the Lady Red wins one of the next two, they’re back in the state tournament.
Last first round match up
The first three-set match of the Scott City sub-state was just contested. Russell won the first set over Hoisington, but the Cardinals came back to win 25-27, 25-11, 25-16. Hoisington will now play the winner of the final first round match between Phillipsburg and Cimarron.
The World Series is now a little more than two hours away. I’m sure Kansas City is about to burst at the seams.
Norton moves on
Norton defeated Southwestern Heights 25-17, 25-21 in the second match, so the Bluejays will now match up with Lakin in the first semifinal. Before that takes place, there are still two more quarterfinal matches, Hoisington vs. Russell and Phillipsburg vs. Cimarron.
Jay Blair, who announces many of Phillipsburg’s matches on KQMA radio, sat down next to me in the press box. Jay had an even shorter turnaround than me, since he went to Ell-Saline for the Panthers’ football game last night at Brookville, back to P-burg, and then all the way down. Jay’s daughter, Melissa, was an All-State player for Phillipsburg from 2007-10 and is now wrapping up a solid college career at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina.
Tad Felts, the legendary KQMA broadcaster who covered high school sports from 1968 through 2011, is also here. I would thin so, because he spent time in Scott City and other places in southwest Kansas.
Russell and Hoisington are about to start. It stinks to high heaven these schools are located only 28 miles apart, are of similar size, yet aren’t in the same league. And they haven’t been in the same league since 1996, when Russell left the old Mid-State Activities Association for their current (crappy) league, the North Central Activities Association. Hoisington bounced around and finally landed in the Central Kansas League this year.
Here we go again. Back in a little while.
Lakin made quick work of host Scott City 25-8, 25-14 in the first match of the volleyball sub-state tournament. With the host out, crowds might be sparse, although I would expect more from Lakin to stream east and north as the tournament wears on.
The gym at Scott City is beautiful. There are individual seats on one side behind the scorer’s table, and there is a large scorer’s table for officials and media. There is also a nice media area above the opposite side, which is where I’m perched right now with the computer and camera.
Norton plays Southwestern Heights next. We don’t print the paper in Norton, but since I know a lot of people there, I’m going to take pictures for this match, and also it will be a backup in case Mr. Norton Bluejay himself, Norton Telegram sportswriter Dick Boyd, doesn’t show up.
Dick bleeds blue and yellow. He’s been at the Telegram since 1970, first as the co-owner with his wife, Mary Beth, from 1970 through 2002, and then in a reduced role as the beat writer for the Bluejays. Dick does not adhere to journalistic objectivity, and while I’m not in favor of cheering for any school I cover, I can’t fault Dick, because he’s certainly earned the right to do so. I just wish he would have won the Oscar Stauffer Award, the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s annual award for the top sportswriter and sports broadcaster, before I did. Dick had to wait two years after I did to finally earn the honor, even though he began at the Telegram six years before I was born and was covering high school sports in Kansas when my dad was still in the Navy and my mom in college.
We’re about ready to start. Back to work.
I have arrived at Scott City, a little later than I would have liked, but early enough nonetheless. The first match of the Class 3A volleyball sub-state tournament, top seed Lakin vs. host Scott City, should get underway a couple of minutes after 1 p.m., following team introductions.
I took the time to stop in Hays to get my car washed. The damn water seeped into the trunk, however, and left some things damp, including a notepad. I don’t think that will be much of an issue, because I’ve got plenty left from the one I was using last night at Smith Center. The car needed to get vacuumed out. And cleaned of the bugs.
I got gas at my favorite station on US 283 in WaKeeney, then made the decision to drive south on 283 towards Ness City rather than what I’ve done in the past, which is take I-70 to Oakley and turn south on US 83 directly to Scott City.
I’ve been south on 283 from WaKeeney to Ness City many times, but this was my first time going west on K-96. I almost regretted immediately, because there was a construction worker standing in front of the Ness County courthourse. Oh great, I thought. I’m going to be waiting for the pilot car to lead the convoy, and this will make me late, or cutting it close.
The wait for the pilot car was not long, and the construction was not the full route today. Once the pilot car pulled away, the drive got insanely boring. Really boring. Fields of nothing. The monotony was only broken up by passing through Dighton, where the track at the stadium was being torn up and replaced. This was my first ever drive through Lane County, probably not my last.
The drive from Dighton to Scott City was pretty much more of the same. I couldn’t find the high school at first simply because I came in from a different direction but once I got my bearings, it was no problem.
Lakin and Scott City have begun. A long day of volleyball is ahead of me.
Long day coming
Day two of my 10th Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament began at 9 a.m. Actually, it began a little after 6 when I pulled out of my garage in Russell. I decided to take the long way through Hays and Phillipsburg so I could get breakfast at Wendy’s, which is far superior to the crap McDonald’s serves.
Smith Center dropped the first set of its first match this morning to Hill City 25-22, but the Lady Red have come back to win the second 25-9. Smith Center now leads the third 22-7, and it looks like it is back in control. I hope this is the first of a bunch of three-set matches, which will make today longer than it already is. Now I get word that the first match at the other gym, Ellis-Trego, is going three. Yikes.
It happened at the 2010 tournament in Norton. One pool had three-set match after three-set match, and it got to the point where there was a lag time of two hours between one pool and the other. The semifinals that day didn’t start until after 5, and it wasn’t until after 8 when I finally got out of there. Last year at Plainville wasn’t nearly as bad, but it helped that most matches went only two sets.
I’ll be leaving the high school at 11 to go to the other gym and see Norton play. Peggy Cox I’m sure wants to see me.
Gone before sunrise
It’s almost time for me to leave the abode on North Brooks Street and head back to Smith Center for day two of the Mid-Continent League volleyball tournament. Each team will play two more pool matches before the top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.
Two-time defending league champion Smith Center and Stockton are 2-0 in pool A, while Plainville and TMP-Marian are 2-0 in Pool B. The four undefeated teams will pair off in pool play today.
Smith Center lost its second consecutive football game last night, as LaCrosse took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 48-14 victory. The Leopards scored on each of their first two possessions, then tallied again in the final minute of the opening period on Andrew Jay’s 65-yard interception return. The Redmen twice got to within 14 in the second quarter on touchdowns from Cale Rogers (7 yard run) and Kody Zabel (11 yard pass from Thayne Benoit), but never any closer.
LaCrosse rushed for 408 yards, with 164 from quarterback Jack Garcia and 150 more from Jay. The Leopards gained 508 yards against a Smith Center defense which allowed 64 last week to Ell-Saline and 82 two weeks prior to Republic County.
The Leopards had been lying in wait for this game, even though it wasn’t a district game and has no bearing on playoff berths. LaCrosse lost playoff games to Smith Center n 2006 and 2008, the latter at home, and the Leopards made sure they enjoyed every minute of the victory. The final score would have been worse had not a 76-yard touchdown run by Jay in the fourth not been called back by a holding penalty well downfield
LaCrosse is basically in the playoffs anyway. The Leopards are 2-0 in their district and have 1-6 Wichita County next week before closing with Oakley. .
Smith Center was limited to 169 yards. No back gained more than 41.
This is the latest in a season Smith Center has lost back-to-back games since 2002, when it lost all three district games to Norton, Phillipsburg and Beloit to finish 4-5, the last time the Redmen missed the playoffs. If the Redmen are to avoid missing the 2014 postseason, they will have to beat Bennington next week at home and Phillipsburg on the road Oct. 30.
No other surprises last night. Norton 60, Russell 14; Phillipsburg 54, Republic County 6; Plainville 51, Wichita County 7; Osborne 52, St. Francis 6; Hill City 51, Stockton 34; and Victoria 58, Thunder Ridge 34.
Okay enough dilly dallying. Time to get going north.