HAYS — The Great Bend Middle School 8th-grade volleyball team left no doubt. After losing to rival Hays Middle School in a prior meeting, the Panthers would soon gain revenge.
Fresh in the girls’ minds was a loss they suffered earlier in the week to Hays 25-20, 18-25, 16-14. The girls were looking to avenge that loss. Coming off the first losses of the season, the Lady Panthers needed to dig deep and refocus.
“I reminded the girls of the goals we set — No. 1 have fun and No. 2 leave your mark,” said coach Michelle Barber.
The girls, fired up and ready, commanded an early 9-4 lead and never looked back defeating Hays 25-15, 25-13 to claim back-to-back MSWAC championships. GBMS ended with a 27-2 record.
“I will definitely miss them as their dynamics, determination and skill has definitely left their mark on the season as well as me. I’m proud of the girls for continue to work hard. They wanted to be challenged to improve their game. The high school team provided these girls the inspiration to succeed on and off the court and under the guidance of coach Shelly Duvall, I can’t wait to watch these girls grow.”
Paige Thexton led with 23 aces followed by Emilee Hall, Sadie Spray and Lauryn Davis with 10 each. Makenzie Premer had eight aces and Rylee Prilling and Macy Nachtigal added six apiece.
Nachtigal put away 20 hits, Hall and Premer contributed 14 kills each, Thexton added 10, Spray, Davis and Prilling contributed six apiuece.
Spray, Davis and Prilling had 50 assists and set at at 92%. Ashton McMillen and Annah Baldwin provided superior passing off the bench throughout the entire tournament.
GBMS drew the No. 2 seed, just like last season.
“These girls are amazing players, but sometimes they forget the most important rule of playing is to have fun,” Barber said.
Starting the day off with Dodge City Comanche, the girls showed they came to play beating the Lady Coyotes 25-8, 25-7 to set the tone for the day.
The Lady Panthers downed Garden City Horace Good 25-14, 25-13 and Dodge City Middle School 25-11, 25-15 to win their pool. GBMS downed Garden City Ken Henderson 25-5, 25-12 to set up a rematch from last year’s MSWAC championship game against Hays Middle School.