TOPEKA — Brian Martin called timeout with his Olathe East team trailing in the third and final game of the Kansas Class 6A volleyball championship.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
“I told them that we better not let it go,” Martin said. “We needed to just get it done.”
The Hawks scored six straight points for a 14-13 lead and went on to win 25-21 over Blue Valley Northwest at the Kansas Expocentre.
The state championship was the first for Olathe East and only the second by an Olathe school, joining Olathe South in 2005.
The Hawks won the first game 25-20, but the Huskies came back for a 25-16 win in the second.
“They are a really good team,” BV Northwest coach Molly Haggerty said. “Their middle is very good. We made adjustments and they made adjustments.
“We were two evenly matched teams, but they made the key plays when they needed to.”
The No. 1-seeded Hawks finished the season 38-5.
“We have a tendency to get down quickly, but we can come back,” Martin said. “The kids just fought and fought today. Our defense was great.”
Olathe East won the state title without a senior on the roster. The Hawks had six juniors, five sophomores and a freshman.
“We knew we could come back (in the third game),” sophomore Abbey Bart said. “We knew we had to play together as a team.
“It’s just an awesome feeling to win state.”
Junior libero Kelli Kalinoski added, “We are mentally strong and knew that we could not give up on what we wanted to do.
“It meant a great deal to me to represent my school and play together with these girls.”
The second-place finish for BV Northwest, 35-9, was its best since the Huskies won the title in 2000, the last time they reached state.
Blue Valley lost to Olathe East in the semifinals, 25-20, 12-25, 25-23, but came back and beat Olathe Northwest in the third-place match, 25-20, 25-14.
The Tigers, a state finalist in 2012, finished 31-9.
The fourth-place finish by the Ravens is the best-ever for the school in just their second trip to state.