The Olathe Northwest volleyball team was jumping for joy after its Class 6A substate victory over Olathe South on Saturday.
Once the final point went long, the Ravens’ bench mobbed the starters on the court and jumped around in a huddle to celebrate their second consecutive trip to the state tournament.
“We just really wanted to go back to back, because it’s the first time in school history,” senior Madeline Schneider said. “We were so pumped with everybody jumping up from the bench.”
In addition to Schneider, the Ravens got crucial support from junior Tess Reid and freshmen Jaiden Chase and Taylor Kuper.
With the two-set win over Olathe South, 25-14, 25-21, Olathe Northwest improved to 35-4 ahead of next weekend’s state tourney in Topeka.
With a spot at state on the line, Ravens coach Barry Lenth expected a difficult match.
“Coming in we knew that Olathe South had the potential to push us, which they did,” Lenth said.
After cruising through most of the first set, the Ravens fought for control in the second as the Falcons clawed closer. However, Olathe Northwest knew that their focus would keep them strong.
“It’s great getting that vibe on the court when you know that you’re whole team’s into it,” Schneider said.
With the Ravens sitting in a nice spot now, they know there’s a chance to keep the momentum going toward their ultimate goal.
“We just need to get after it at practice,” Schneider said. “I think we need to stay confident also because we’re such a good team together.”
Hawks to defend title
The defending Kansas Class 6A champions will be on hand in Topeka next weekend, too.
Olathe East punched its substate ticket Saturday with a two set win over Lawrence Free State by the scores of 25-17, 25-20.
“It always ramps up a little bit on substate weekend,” coach Brian Martin said. “Everybody comes into substate knowing they have a chance to move on.”
The Hawks, 31-8, return their entire team from last year’s 6A title, but the girls were still thrilled to go back.
“They’ve got the experience,” Martin said. “We brought back every player from last year, so they know what it’s like being in those situations.”
Led by a senior class that includes libero Kelli Kalinoski and setter Lindsey Benson, Olathe East should be right in contention.
“We’ve got variety of hitters that just get the job done,” Martin said.