After suffering through the growing pains that come with youth, the Warriors finally hit their stride during sub-state, qualifying for a spot in the Class 2A state tournament this weekend at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
Berean Academy volleyball coach Amy Vogt described her team at the beginning of the season as “young and inexperienced.”After suffering through the growing pains that come with youth, the Warriors finally hit their stride during sub-state, qualifying for a spot in the Class 2A state tournament this weekend at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.“We’re starting to trust each other and played really well at the end of the season,” Vogt said. “We put three matches together at sub-state. At the beginning of the season, we had some real highs and real lows. I’m excited about where we’re at right now. We’re real underdogs right now. I think we raised some eyebrows by getting to state.”It’s been a reloading process for the Warriors, which lost nine seniors off a team that reached state last season. This is Berean’s second trip to state since 1990.“We graduated nine seniors from last year, but I knew we had a group with a lot of athleticism coming in,” Vogt said. “I know there have been doubters who said we wouldn’t do it, but winning sub-state last week speaks for itself.”Berean, 18-17, opens pool play at 8:30 a.m. Friday against top-seeded Valley Heights (40-1), followed by fourth-seeded Sublette (33-8) at 11:30 a.m., and Pittsburg St. Mary’s-Colgan (32-8) at 1:30 p.m.“I don’t know a whole lot about the teams (in the pool) because of their distance,” Vogt said. “From what I’ve heard about Valley Heights, they are pretty basic. They aren’t very tall, but neither are we. They are a little weak in the middle, but they have very strong outsides. In volleyball, it’s very hard to scout teams unless they are close by.”In the opposite pool are Heart of America League rival Moundridge (36-3), Nemaha Valley (27-13), St. Marys (37-5) and Oberlin (29-8).St. Marys is the defending Class 2A champion. Runner-up St. John-Hudson dropped to Class 1A. Moundridge took third last year. St. Mary’s-Colgan also returns from last season.“Last year, we had to play Moundridge in our first match,” Vogt said. “We played them three or four times last year. I’m glad we don’t have to face them in pool. We’ll get to see some new teams. They have gotten better this year from the start of the season.”Berean is one of three HOAL teams at state this year, joining Moundridge and Goessel, which is playing in Class 1A.“We could have gotten four or five teams at state,” Vogt said. “The top eight teams are all very tough. We had a lot of sub-states where we were knocking each other off. We had to play Peabody in the first round, and they are a very scrappy team.”Kayla Eilert, a senior, and Janelle Rust, a junior have been leading the team on both the front line and back row. Eilert has 177 kills, followed by Rust with 162 kills. Rust has 156 digs, followed by Eilert with 155. Middle blocker Tiffany Veer had 130 kills. Kristin Khosravipour started the season as a back row player, but is more prominent as an outside hitter.“Kayla isn’t very tall, but she has a very powerful hit,” Vogt said. “Janelle didn’t play as a freshman and didn’t play varsity until late year. She is starting to catch up to Kayla in kills.”The team is led in assists by freshman setter Morgan Barron. Vogts said Eilert started the season setting in a 6-2, but Barron has taken over as sole setter in a 5-1 set.Vogt said senior Jenna Myer has taken an important role as a defensive specialist.“What I would like to see us do is come out and play solid volleyball,” Vogt said. “I feel like this team has the ability to sneak up on somebody. Our record is only 18-17, and we didn’t have a winning record until winning sub-state. I feel like we’ve earned the right to be here.”