The Lady Mavericks Varsity Volleyball team finished their season with a 0-3 performance at the state tournament in Emporia. It was surprising to some fans who thought the Ladies could win it all. Head Coach Randy Fulton reflected on the season, his players and the tough loss that ended a strong 2012 season.
“We were good all year,” said Fulton. “We were almost as good in the first game as we were in the last game. The girls got a little stronger as the season progressed and I saw some improvements in the continuity between our setter and our hitters. That is what we want to see, some improvement. Also our passing got better and our defense got better.”
The Mavericks ended their 2012 regular season with a 35-4 record and entered the 2A state tournament as the number three seed behind number one seeded Washington County (36-3) and number two seeded Hill City (35-4).
“Going into the tournament the coaches and the team felt like we were ready. We were excited, we were looking forward to it and once we got into it, I think we played well. It was a tough competition, which it always is, and looking back I wish we could have done some things different. I’m not sure what we would have done different, but we would have done something,” laughed Fulton.
The Mavs lost both sets against Skyline and had slow starts in both sets. A strong Skyline team played with leads in both sets, forcing the Mavericks to play catch-up.
The Mavs mounted a late second set rally, coming within two points, but Skyline tamped down the rally following a Kiowa County serving error.
“It would have been nice to get that one,” said Fulton. “It’s part of volleyball, you always get breaks and you lose breaks. When we got them they were at the wrong time and we couldn’t get momentum. We put some points on the board and I think [in the second set] we put together a nice round, but it was tough to come back by then.”
KC played Jefferson County in the second match and started strong, winning their first set 25-12.
“The nice thing is that we fought hard to three,” he said. “We came out and played well the first set. In the second set we had some momentum. Riann [Heft] made a play I thought was legal around the net, but they called her for being out. It was a bad break.”
The Mavs lost the second and third sets and looked to be knocked out of the competition, but a Jefferson County win against Skyline in the fifth match of the day, set up a possible three-way tie between Skyline, Kiowa County and Hill City.
Page 2 of 2 - A KC victory would send the Mavs to the semi-finals based on their win-loss ratio.
“We didn’t know until ten minutes before that we were still in it. It was nice that we had an opportunity. We were playing for pride, but we had a chance to play the next day and that was great. I was proud of the girls; we won the first set and had an opportunity to win both of those matches.”
But the Mavs fell to Hill City in three sets and finished competition without a win.
“We had every opportunity and the girls played hard, but it just wasn’t our day,” remarked Fulton. “We needed some breaks and we needed the ball to fall in the right places and we just didn’t get that at the right time. At [the state level] everyone is good. You need some things to happen in your favor and we just couldn’t get that to go. We had some errors on our part and the ball fell where we don’t want it to fall.”
A number of Lady Mavericks earned season accolades including Riann Heft and Heather Melton who were named to the Kansas All-State Second Team and honorable mention, respectively.
“I think it’s nice to be recognized when you have a good team. It would be nicer if the whole team could be recognized, because it takes a whole team to be successful, but it’s nice for them to get the recognition. My hitters wouldn’t be as good without the setters and our setters wouldn’t be as good without the passers, it goes on and on. I think everyone on the team should be commended for those achievements.”
Fulton, the coaching staff and volleyball fans will now look to the 2013 season.
While senior players will graduate in the spring, Fulton has high expectations for next years crop of new players.
“I’m excited,” added Fulton. “We lose four good seniors, but we’ll return with girls who have varsity experience. Some of them have been playing in junior varsity and getting prepared to come up and play varsity. I think there will be a lot of competition for the varsity spots. It looks promising.”