A 6-16 overall record is rather modest for the Great Bend High School varsity volleyball team, not the type of the mark the Lady Panthers prefer.
Yet, in the Great Bend’s most recent competition — last Saturday in the Toganoxie Invitational — the Lady Panthers made some big strides against some top-caliber competition.
On Saturday, the Lady Panthers — who have been road warriors in competing in all of their matches away from home this season— finally get to play in a comfort zone, in front of the home crowd for the first time at the Great Bend Invitational. The first matches get under way at 9 a.m.
“It has been rough,” said Great Bend head coach Kelsey Perry of the road trips. “Our girls played really well (at Tonganoxie), especially once they got out of pool-play.
“They beat some really good teams, so we’re excited. We’re doing some different things, things that we need to do to win, so that was important. We have some great athletes that work really hard, and now they’re finding ways to beat those teams that have those great volleyball players.”
The Lady Panthers, who beat Perry-Lecompton, Piper and Eudora, hope to use those matches as a springboard for their own invite. Teams that will be competing include the likes of Hays, Pittsburg, Pratt-Skyline, Phillipsburg, St. John, Salina Central and Wichita Northwest as part of the field.
“It will be a tough one,” Perry said. “Hays is there, which is our only Western Athletic Conference opponent, but they’re in the other bracket. That’s usually the way it happens.”
“This is the time you need to start being good. The end of October is when you want to peak, so if we keep on our pace, we should do really good.”
Several players have stepped up for the Lady Panthers during their resurgence as it has come from a different mix and different players.
“It varies every game and match, that’s for sure,” Perry said. “Liz Kutina has really stepped up in the middle, along with Ashley Boeger. They have been really effective blocking and hitting.
“Emily Seiwert is comfortable now hitting the ball and she’s not timid at all.”
On the back row, consistency has been the key.
“Katleyn Henning has been very good for us this season,” Perry said of the sophomore libero. “Katleyn got hurt about a week ago (ankle sprain) and we had to move some people around and Kaitlee Spray kind of stepped in and filled that spot until Katelyn could get back in it.
“Jennifer Allende and Kaitlee … that whole back line is doing a lot for our team.”