The Bluebirds have been something of a giant killer early in the post-season, landing a berth in the Class 1A state volleyball tournament, which begins Friday at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.


The Goessel High School volleyball team isn’t very big but has been strong on defense.

The Bluebirds have been something of a giant killer early in the post-season, landing a berth in the Class 1A state volleyball tournament, which begins Friday at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

Goessel is the sixth-seed at 30-9. The Bluebirds are in the B pool, opening play at 4:30 p.m. against 39-3 Pratt Skyline, followed by 5:30 p.m. against 38-2 St. John-Hudson. Goessel closes play at 8:30 p.m. against 30-11 Frankfort.

“We’re playing very well right now,” Goessel coach Crysta Guhr said. “This is the most consistent team I’ve ever been around since I’ve been coaching. They are very steady night-in, night-out. They don’t get too high or too low. They keep their cool out there.”

Guhr called opening opponent Pratt Skyline big.

“They have at least one girl who is 6-foot,” she said. “They have a couple who are 5-11. They are a lot bigger than we are. They run an offense very similar to ours. They run a lot of quick sets. We are used to seeing that. Hopefully, our defense will be ready for that.”

Goessel follows with the defending Class 2A state runner-up St. John-Hudson, the second seed in the tournament.

“They are another very good team,” Guhr said. “We’re still working on finding film for them. They also have some big players who are very good. They have (Bethany) Cornwell. We’re going to have to find a way to slow her down.”

Goessel finishes play against Frankfort, the seventh seed.

“They remind me a lot of us,” Guhr said. “They have 11 losses, but don’t count them out. They play in a very good league with Valley Heights and Centralia, who made it to state.”

In the opposite pool are top-seeded Weskan (43-0), Hoxie (27-10), Hutchinson Central Christian (38-3) and Centralia (37-6). Centralia took third in Class 1A last year, while Hoxie was fourth.

Goessel beat Central Christian in two games in the regional finals.

Neither the defending champion, Quivira Heights, and runner-up, Wheatland-Grinnell, returned to state this season.

Guhr said her team has four players, any one of which can lead the team in kills on a given night. The team is led in blocking by Rinda Duerksen and Karis Janzen. On the back row, libero Karina Harvey is averaging about 4.7 digs a game. Setter Jessica Goertzen averages about eight assists a game.

Being one of three Heart of America League teams at state, joining Moundridge and Berean Academy which both are in Class 2A competition, Guhr said league play has prepared her team well for state.

“We finished third in the league in the regular season,” Guhr said. “We see good competition every night out. Every year, it seems like there are two or three Heart of America League teams at state. It prepares us very well.”

Guhr said the biggest challenge for her team will be to adjust to the surroundings. The team is making its first trip to state since 2005.

“We have to play within ourselves,” she said. “We can’t get caught up too much in the atmosphere or our emotions. The atmosphere is awesome. The goal there is to advance.”