Volleyball roundup: St. James, SMNW punch tickets to state
As the No. 6 seed in Saturday's sub-state tournament at Olathe North, Shawnee Mission Northwest's volleyball team was not favored to win a match.
The Cougars defied the odds in convincing fashion — sweeping No. 3 Olathe North (25-15, 25-18) and No. 2 Olathe East (26-24, 25-13).
Britta Coleman led the Cougars with five kills against the Eagles and added six more in the sweep of the Hawks. Hannah Black served as a presence at the net as well with a team-high four blocks against the Eagles. Ava Graves helped solidify the front row with eight kills against the Hawks.
Sabrina Creason paced the Cougars in digs and assists in both matches. Creason dished out 17 assists the win over the Eagles and 20 against the Hawks, while recording six digs in each match.
Northwest improved to 16-20 in Susan Specht's first season as the varsity coach. The Cougars advanced to the Class 6A state tournament at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, where they will be the No. 8 seed.
The Cougars will be in Pool A against No. 1 seed and undefeated Blue Valley West (39-0), No. 4 Free State (33-5) and No. 5 SM East (28-8). Pool B will be composed of No. 2 Olathe Northwest (33-4), No. 3 Garden City (33-5), No. 6 Manhattan (28-12) and No. 7 Wichita Northwest (28-13).
The 6A tournament will kick off an action-packed day of volleyball at 8:30 a.m. with SM Northwest going up against BV West on Court A and Olathe Northwest and Wichita Northwest duking it out on Court B.
In the other half of the 6A sub-state bracket, SM North's season concluded with a (25-6, 25-11) loss to Olathe Northwest. The Indians ended their 2016 campaign with a record of 1-31.
Thunder make return trip to 5A state tourney
The St. James Academy entered Saturday's sub-state tournament at St. Thomas Aquinas with a seed that it was unaccustomed to, but still produced the same results that the Thunder have in years past.
The No. 4-seeded Thunder (23-15) defeated fellow Eastern Kansas League foe Blue Valley Southwest (25-12, 25-19) in the sub-state semifinal, before taking down No. 1 seed De Soto in straight sets (25-18, 25-19) to earn a trip back to the Class 5A state tournament at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. Pool play for the 5A tournament is set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
The defending state champs will be the underdogs in Topeka — coming in as the No. 8 seed. The Thunder will be in Pool A with No. 1 seed Newton (38-4), No. 4 Lansing (33-5) and No. 5 Shawnee Heights (33-6). No. 2 Eisenhower (36-5), No. 3 Pittsburg (35-5), No. 6 Emporia (28-8) and No. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas (31-10) will be in Pool B.
Pool play for the 5A tournament is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. with St. James and Newton playing on Court A and Eisenhower and Aquinas squaring off on Court B.
The Thunder ended De Soto's bid at making the state tournament in their first season as a 5A school. The Wildcats coasted past Harmon (25-5, 25-2) in the sub-state semifinal before falling to St. James. De Soto closed the season with a record of 30-9.
In the bottom half of the 5A sub-state bracket at Aquinas, Mill Valley advanced to the final against the hosting Saints. The No. 6-seeded Jaguars breezed by No. 3 Sumner Academy (25-8, 25-10) before falling to No. 2 Aquinas (25-17, 25-13). The Jaguars finished the season with a record of 17-20.