The Abilene Cowgirl volleyball team had one match that it would love to have back and be able to finish. Leading 22-20 in the decisive set against Buhler, the Cowgirls just couldn’t find the hammer to put away the Lady Crusaders and eventually fell 22-25 to lose the match. It was the only match they lost on Saturday at the Abilene Invitational Tournament.
Playing good steady volleyball throughout pool play, the Cowgirls won the pool and headed to the cross matches. The Cowgirls battled Ellsworth (25-18, 25-20), Salina Central (25-19, 25-16) before meeting up with Smoky Valley, a team the Cowgirls lost to early in the season. Saturday, the Cowgirls had Smoky Valley’s number with a 25-19, 25-16 win to send them to the semifinals.
The Lady Crusdaers came into the match against Abilene being the second place team in the other pool. Buhler had lost a tough fight to Royal Valley, the number one ranked team in Class 3A.
Abilene won the first set 25-20 but in the second set, the inability to finish first showed up. It cost the Cowgirls the second set 21-25. That inability raised its ugly head again in the third set where Abilene and Buhler battled back and forth all match. With the Cowgirls leading 22-20, Buhler rattled off five straight points for the victory and to send them to the championship match against the other qualifier Smoky Valley, who had upset Royal Valley.
In the third place match, Abilene played solid, smart volleyball and were able to finish off the Lady Panthers 25-21, 25-22.
Abilene finishes the regular season with a 24-13 record after beginning the season under first year head coach Jade Koch 0-5. The Cowgirls regrouped after that start to finish with 18 wins in their last 21 matches.
Summary of stats for the day: Autumn Fitzgeralds 24 kills, 3 blocks, 10 digs; Beth Holmes 6 aces, 7 kills, 3 blocks, 13 digs, 89 assists; Chesney Sprinkle 1 ace, 13 kills, 5 blocks, 3 digs, 1 assist; Emma Wildman 20 kills, 9 blocks, 1 assist; Jenna Hayes 6 aces, 42 kills, 3 blocks, 11 digs; Joy Clemence 2 aces, 17 digs; Makenna McGivney 46 digs, 5 assists; Olivia Howie 10 aces, 2 digs, 8 assists; Reagan Ditto 10 kills, 2 blocks, 1 dig; Taya Hoerner 3 kills.
The Cowgirls await their sub-state seeding assignment today by the Kansas State High School Activities Association. If all of the Class 4A West Division schools have updated the volleyball results web site Abilene will be the sixth seed in the West. The top four teams Andale (31-2), Towanda-Circle (30-6), Holton (26-11) and Chapman (23-10) will host sub-state action next Saturday. The four winning schools from those four locations will join the winning four schools from the East Division at the state tournament in Hutchinson the first weekend in November.
If Abilene remains the sixth seed, it should travel to Holton and will likely play Pratt (16-19) the 11th seed and the winner would face the winner of Holton versus Winfield (12-22).