For the first time since 2007, the Great Bend High School volleyball team has qualified for the Class 5A state tournament.
The tourney starts today at Topeka’s Kansas Expocentre and concludes on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers are calm, according to head coach Kelsey Perry.
“They’re all pretty focused this week in practice,” Perry said. “They’ve been trying to stay pretty loose with the pressure.
“They’ve been working very hard.”
Great Bend has seven seniors on the team — Selam Ball, Kaylie Doll, Kelsie Doll, Hannah Hildebrand, Kylee Spray, Brenna Haines and Tarynn Stueder.
Perry said that the experience on the team has helped it reach a record of 29-9 overall this year. It also makes her team easy to motivate.
“It was kind of eerie, the calm at the sub-state tournament,” Perry said. “They knew what they needed to do. We don’t have to motivate them much. They’re already aware that this is their final season, so they motivate themselves.
“We told them how important every point is.”
The tournament is separated into two pools.
The Lady Panthers open today’s pool play against the top seed in their pool, second-seeded Kapaun Mt. Carmel, at 8:30 a.m.
Kapaun is 35-4 overall this year.
“Obviously, Kapaun is going to be a real good team,” Perry said. “We’re hoping that since we get them right out of the gate, they might overlook us a little bit.”
At 11:30 a.m., Great Bend plays against Andover, which is the No. 3 seed at 34-5 this year.
“From what we hear, Andover is a really scrappy team,” Perry said. “They’re the type of team that sticks with you, just hangs around.”
Great Bend follows that with a 12:30 p.m. matchup against No. 6 seed Topeka Seaman, which is 32-9.
At the end of the regular season, Haines led the Lady Panthers in kills (190) and blocks (119).
Stueder recorded 603 assists. She also leads with 61 service aces.