HALSTEAD — After a strong showing at the Central Kansas League pre-season tournament, the Halstead Dragon volleyball team came home Tuesday to sweep a pair of non-league matches.
Halstead downed St. John-Hudson 25-14, 25-17; and Burrton 25-16, 25-11.
St John-Hudson downed Burrton 25-11, 25-15.
Halstead improves to 6-2. Burrton drops to 3-4. St. John-Hudson is 1-1.
“The main thing was just trying to stay focused today,” Halstead coach Diana Schutte said. “We wanted to connect our passes. We have to have good passes before we can pound the ball. Overall, we did a really good job. It was fun to see a team that wasn’t quite as tall. These teams don’t have the block that we’ve seen before. This year and last year was the first time we’ve beaten St. John. They have always have been at the top of the state in 1A. They have a good coach and they will be there by the end of the season.”
Burrton lost Alexis Zehr to an injury Monday.
“She was an all-state honorable mention last year,” Burrton coach Kelli Zehr said. “She’s my daughter. It happened yesterday, so we had to put in a new setter and a new rotation. I was impressed with the girls’ coming out. They were fighting and doing what ever they could to make up for her loss — setting, hitting, you name it. We got a good match out of Laryssa Stahl. She’s not a hitter. She’s not a setter. She’s not a front-line player. She had to take that role on within 24 hours. Serving has been a strength for us. Hitting, we have to be smart about it. We don’t have a lot of massive hitters. It will take some time to get everything figured out.”
Halstead senior outside hitter Madyson Beckett finished the night with 18 kills to lead the Dragons.
“We’ve been working hard in practice,” Beckett said. “We’ve been working so well as a team. We spent so much time getting ready for this year.”
Halstead claimed a signature win over the weekend, topping cross-county rival Hesston in two sets. It was the first time the Dragons have beaten the Swathers in years and avenges a loss in last year’s sub-state tourney.
“That was exciting,” Beckett said. “Not only to beat them for the first time since I’ve been here, but to beat them in two sets. That was so much fun.”
“That was a big high for the girls,” Schutte said. “We went in, sometimes the girls get intimidated by Hesston. They are a different team. It’s a different season. They are so well coached. They will be a team to watch for at the end of the season.”
Burrton was coming off winning the consolation bracket Saturday at the Peabody-Burns Invitational. After losses to Chase County and KSHSAA newcomer Wichita Classical School, the Chargers won three straight matches.
Halstead jumped out 10-1 against St. John-Hudson. The Tigers took a time out, but Halstead came back on and extended its advantage to 17-3. After St. John’s final time out, Halstead struggled with errors, but was able to right the ship and win the set.
The Tigers had four service errors in the first set to one for Halstead. The Dragons had seven aces to none for St. John.
Halstead jumped out 7-0 in the second set on the serve of Madison McClain, who had three aces in the run. After a Tiger time out, Halstead took the foot off the gas, allowing St. John to get within one. Up 16-15, Halstead made a 3-0 run and forced the Tigers’ final time out. McClain followed the time out with two straight aces and the Dragons went on to win the match.
“We got into a little bit of a funk,” Beckett said. “We may have been a little tired from the weekend. We finally got back and started playing our games, the volleyball that we know. The girls are doing a pretty good job of taking care of themselves, but it’s tough to play that many games. But volleyball is fun. That’s why we do it. … We have six seniors this year. We’re trying to set up something for every grade to enjoy.”
Kerenna Gerber led Halstead with six kills and two downed blocks. Beckett added six kills, five in the second set. Breanna Winkel had three kills. Callie Considine downed two blocks.
McClain served six aces, followed by Josie Engel with four and Beckett with three.
For St. John-Hudson, Paige Doran had four kills, followed by Bree Meyer with three.
Tied 9-9 in the first set against Burrton, Halstead made a 5-1 run and held the Chargers off the rest of the way.
Tied 4-4 in the second set, Halstead made a 6-2 run. After a Charger time out, Halstead made an 11-3 run to take things in hand.
Beckett led Halstead with 12 kills, followed by Gerber with four kills and a downed block. Winkel, McClain and Solle-Ann Werner each had three kills.
Shaeley Day served five aces. Winkel served two.
For Burrton, Addison Matlack had four kills and a downed block. Layrssa Stahl had two kills. Kassandra Salgado and Matlack each served an ace.
“We kept having delays in the game,” Schutte said. “That was good for the girls to keep focused. Don’t let little delays like that get to us.”
“We played better against Halstead,” Kelli Zehr said. “We learned our roles a bit on the fly against St. John and got better as the night went on. I was really happy with the way they came together.”
Burrton trailed St. John 11-5 in the first set, prompting a time out. The Chargers took their second time out down 18-8.
Tied 6-6 in the second set, Burrton gave up a 3-0 run and never recovered.
Erin Crissman and Darby Smith each had five kills for St. John-Hudson. Doran had four kills. Bree Meyer had three kills and a downed block. Dayton Long served four aces, followed by Doran with three and Crissman with two.
Layrssa Stahl led Burrton with four kills. Matlack had Burrton’s sole ace.
Halstead plays Tuesday at Pratt with Kingman. Pratt topped Halstead in three sets at the CKL pre-season tournament. Kingman left the CKL for the Central Plains League.
“We’re really going to work on going against Pratt’s blocking,” Schutte said.
Burrton opens Heart of the Plains League play Tuesday at Skyline with Hutchinson Central Christian.
“We won’t give up,” Kelli Zehr said. “We’re pretty scrappy. We have a young team. We play at least two freshmen most of the time. We’ll just work and get better.”
Halstead def. St. John-Hudson 25-14, 25-17
St. John-Hudson def. Burrton 25-11, 25-15
Halstead def. Burrton 25-16, 25-11