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Oilers own strong state tradition
oiler volleyball
The Central Plains volleyball 1A state qualifier—front row—manager Shelby Vessey, Addison Crites, Rachel Lamatsch, Rebecca Stratmann; back row—head coach Lisa Crites, Kristi Weeks, Callie Zink, Riley Thompson, Shaylah Kempke, Ryenne Cunningham, Lexi Oeser, Kassidy Nixon, Emma Hickel, manager Shannon Bunch, coach Brittany Kratzer


DODGE CITY – The bad news is Central Plains have posted the seventh-best record for Friday’s 1A state volleyball tournament.

The good news is the Oilers (29-11) have earned their record against a challenging schedule that featured 4A state qualifier Nickerson, 3A Phillipsburg, 2A Smith Center, 1A Victoria and Central Prairie League champion Ellinwood.

“Our tough competition helped us identify any weaknesses and shows the girls what we need to work on,” said Central Plains coach Lisa Crites. “When we see the good hitting teams like Nickerson and Smith Center, we know where we need our coverages to keep the ball in play.”

The Oilers cruised past Grainfield-Wheatland 25-16, 25-12 in the substate championship after beating Thunder Ridge 25-18, 25-22 in the semifinals. The Oilers downed Ness City 25-16, 25-11 and Victoria 25-8, 25-13 in the regional.

Setters Kassidy Nixon and Riley Thompson feed leading hitters Addison Crites and Nixon.

Rachel Lamatsch leads in digs. Lexi Oeser leads in ace serves.

 “We’ve played our best volleyball of the season in substate,” Crites said. “Defensively, we performed really well and our offense did a good job. Our setters Kassidy Nixon and Riley Thompson identified which hitters to go through. Our hitting goes through Addison Crites and Kassidy Nixon, who is super athletic, but any of them can catch fire. We’d had days where Rebecca Stratmann and Ryenne Cunningham have led us.”

The Oilers have placed first (2015, 2A), second (2016 2A), third (2014, 2A) in prior state volleyball tournaments.

“If we play our best volleyball, we like our chances at the 1A tournament,” she said. “We know the best teams have solid blockers and good hitters. They are all playing good volleyball.”

The Oilers were understandably excited for their first state volleyball trip in three years. They lost to Victoria last year and were eliminated by Valley Heights two years ago.

“They are used to this feeling for basketball, but for most of them it’s a new experience for volleyball, so they are super excited,” Crites said. “The thing I like the most is these girls compete at a high level. They all understand the work, time and energy it takes to play at this level.”


1—Addison Crites, 5-11, 12

5—Kassidy Nixon, 5-6, 10

6—Riley Thompson, 5-5, 10

7—Emma Hickel, 5-6, 9

8—Rebecca Stratmann, 5-6, 12

11—Ryenne Cunningham, 5-9, 11

12—Kristi Weeks, 5-3, 10

13—Lexi Oeser, 5-7, 11

14—Shaylah Kempke, 5-8, 10

19—Callie Zink, 5-2, 11

41—Rachel Lamatsch, 5-2, 12

OTHER OILERS—Nora VanScyoc; Adrianne Torgersen; Chyanna Warta; Elizeia Franson; Shannon Bunch; Rylie Bailey


POOL 1—8:30 a.m.—Minneola 32-8 vs. Olpe 31-10; 9:30 a.m.—Rural Vista 38-4 vs. Victoria 23-13; 10:30 a.m.—Minneola vs. Victoria; 11:30 a.m. Rural Vista vs. Olpe; 12:30 p.m.—Olpe vs. Victoria; 1:30 p.m.—Rural Vista vs. Minneola 

POOL 2—8:30 a.m.—Cunningham 35-6 vs. Clifton Clyde 30-11; 9:30 a.m.—Chetopa 38-5 vs. Central Plains 29-11; 10:30 a.m.—Cunningham vs. Central Plains; 11:30 a.m.—Chetopa vs. Clifton Clyde; 12:30 p.m.—Clifton Clyde vs. Central Plains; 1:30 p.m.—Chetopa vs. Cunningham