Olathe East High School won its first outright Sunflower League volleyball championship on Thursday at Shawnee Mission South.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
The Kansas City Star
The Hawks beat the host Raiders 25-18 and 25-20, then drilled SM North 25-8 and 25-11 in a league triangular.
“This is our first outright Sunflower League title,” said Brian Martin, in his 13th year coaching at Olathe East. “We tied with Lawrence Free State last year. We were both 10-1 in league last year.”
And the Hawks have won the league title with a roster that doesn’t include a single senior.
They finished 11-0 in league play and are 21-2 overall. The two losses have come against Topeka Seaman and Blue Valley Northwest.
Olathe East is ranked No. 2 in Class 6A in the Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association rankings. BV Northwest is first.
“We have stayed consistent this year,” Martin said. “If our serve is going well, our defense can handle what we get back from the other team.”
Junior Libero Kelli Kalinoski said, “We have played together as a team.”
Six-foot junior setter Lindsey Benson added, “We have played well as a team. We have really good teamwork and do well at finishing games.”
The Hawks will play host to an eight-team Class 6A substate event on Oct. 26.
The eight schools are the four Olathe schools, Lawrence, Wyandotte, SM Northwest and Gardner-Edgerton. The eight will be split into two four-team substates based on records with the winners going to state.
Olathe South is ranked third and Olathe Northwest is fifth in the 6A Kansas Volleyball Coaches Association rankings.
Olathe East has been to state the last three years and placed fourth in 2012. They have been to state five times in Martin’s first 12 years as the head coach.
“Our passing has been inconsistent,” Martin said. “If it is consistent, our offense can do what it needs to do.”
Kalinoski said, “Every player on our team wants to go to state and perform well there.”
Benson added, “We have to keep working hard and have good practices. We have to start out strong and not have any slow spots.”
In the other match in Thursday’s triangular, SM South beat SM North 25-16 and 25-13.
The first game against SM North, the Raiders led 13-12 when sophomore Libero Tegan Goodson served 10 consecutive points.
The split gives SM South a 14-12 record for first-year coach Kathy Bates.
Bates has been a club coach for 17 years in the area and had been the Raiders’ freshman coach for the last two years.
“We are a fairly young team with six of our 10 varsity players sophomores,” Bates said. “Our three seniors have given us great senior leadership. This is a very unselfish team.”
The three seniors are Holly Schneider, Rachel McCabe and Sam Cashion.