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GBMS volleyball 8th graders win WAC title
GBMS 8th grade
The Great Bend Middle School 8th-grade volleyball team is the Western Athletic champion. Front row—Braylee Carper, Ava Kaiser, Jadynce Schroeder, Miya Nachtigal, Kamryn Koelsch; back row—manager Naima Zapata, Katherine Mazouch, Denver Ringo, Alyssa McCauley, Kimberly Hofflinger, coach Michelle Barber.

GBMS 8th-grade wins WAC title

DODGE CITY -- Maybe a loss to Ellinwood Middle School was a blessing for the unbeaten Great Bend Middle School 8th-grade volleyball team.

Sure enough, the Panthers shook off a loss with a hard-fought championship victory over rival Hays Middle School, 22-25, 25-15, 15-11.

The Indians were intent on avenging a 25-20, 25-23 loss to the Panthers. Hays took charge with an 11-5 lead and a 25-22 first set victory.

“We started playing safe and lost our intensity. I asked the girls to dig deep and have my back for the next game,” said coach Michelle Barber.  

The Panthers came out on fire and posted a 25-15 win forcing a third set. It wasn’t easy.

“Hays rallied and the tide quickly switched,” Barber said.

Kimberly Hofflinger swung the momentum with two ace serves that sparked a 15-11 victory for a memorable 27-1 season.

“I can’t imagine a different ending,” Barber said. “I loved coaching these girls because each one had their own definition of success. They never lost sight of the big picture.  These girls’ stories will live on for many years to come.   These girls found out they truly are ‘Stronger than You Think.’

The Panthers rolled past Garden City Ken Henderson 25-9, 25-11 in the semifinals. Denver Ringo dominated at the net with three winners and two blocks. Miya Nachtigal had two winners.

The Panthers started pool play with wins over Dodge City Middle School, Liberal Eisenhower and Liberal Seymour Rogers.

Nachtigal served 10 ace serves, Ringo eight, Braylee Carper seven, Jadynce Schroeder and Alyssa McCauley five apiece, and Ava Kaiser and Kimmy Hofflinger three each. Nachtigal delivered six winners, Ringo five, McCauley three, Katherine Mazouch, Hofflinger, Kamryn Koelsch and Schroeder all with two apiece.