Morning Sun
  • Raiders a focused family heading to state

  • The Frontenac Raiders parlayed a 22-match winning streak and 35-4 overall record into a No. 3 seed in the Class 4A state volleyball tournament, winning substate Saturday at Pittsburg High School.

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  • The Frontenac Raiders parlayed a 22-match winning streak and 35-4 overall record into a No. 3 seed in the Class 4A state volleyball tournament, winning substate Saturday at Pittsburg High School.
    “I was extremely proud of the girls on Saturday,” Frontenac head coach Cassie Buche said. “It was a tough day for us. Playing Labette County in the semifinals, they had a really strong outside hitter. She hit the middle and she hit the weak side very well. We knew that going in and we had prepared for that going in. PHS, they’re a great team and they have a lot of great athletes. It was back-and-forth and back-and-forth and back-and-forth but the heart and the drive that the girls have had all season was just very evident to me on Saturday. It doesn’t matter what class we’re in or who we’re playing, we’re just going to show up and do everything we can to beat them.”
    If you watched the Class 3A state baseball tournament in Manhattan or the volleyball team in the last few weeks, you’ve seen that arguably no community rallies around and supports its teams quite like Frontenac.
    “We’ve had some things come up within our team, with Lindsey (Gorham) and her family,” Buche said. “It’s been amazing to watch them be there for each other and push each other at the same time. Not only is it good to see your team be there for each other emotionally but to see them push each other back-and-forth and want to get better is an amazing thing. This group has it and they’re a very special group of kids.”
    “Since my mom (Diana) has cancer (cervical cancer), I decided to do it for her,” senior setter Lindsey Gorham said. “I like playing for other people. Everybody in there’s like my family.”
    “I’m really proud of our team,” senior libero Nayna Fields said. “I think we deserve it. We’re athletic, all of us. We are a family. We all get along really well, better than any team I’ve ever been on.”
    The Raiders have developed into a well-balanced team with 12 capable varsity players — seniors Fields, Jennifer Long, Paige Badart, Gorham, McKayla Edwards and Libby Warrick, juniors Andi Palumbo, Alexis Robinson, Ryleigh McCartney, Natalie Coomes and Bailey Flora, and freshman Lauren Hipfl.
    “They can’t focus in on one player on this team this year because if they do stop one of us, there’s three or four others that are offensively going to put the ball down for us,” Buche said. “When we’re scouting teams, we’re focusing in on that big hitter or those two big hitters but we have five big hitters on the front row. Regardless of who we go to, we have confidence in them.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Gorham, a four-year starter, leads Frontenac with 876 assists (10.4 per set) and ranks third with 302 digs.
    “Lindsey has had her best season this year,” Buche said. “She’s opened a lot of eyes. She’s been that core for our team. Being the setter, she’s offensively in on every play and her stats, they’re just amazing. I look at them week-to-week and it’s just amazing how many attempts she’s had and how many errors she’s not had. As long as Lindsey does well, we’re doing well.”
    Gorham has 876 assists balanced against 26 errors.
    McCartney, a three-year starter, has become one of the best all-around players in the area — team-high 336 kills, team-high 102 blocks, second-best 378 digs, third-best 32 aces and second-best 249 serves received.
    “Ryleigh’s stepped into that role,” Buche said. “Offensively, she leads our team in kills, leads our team in blocks and I think she leads our team in probably every offensive category that we have. Defensively, she plays that middle back position for us on the back row and she continues to improve in that position. That’s a tough position for anybody to play, let alone somebody who’s playing middle front on the front row. By the end of the day, she’s probably exhausted but you’d never know it with Ryleigh. She’s been a huge reason for our success.”
    Four players over 100 kills (McCartney 336, Badart 233, Warrick 178, Hipfl 122), six over 20 aces (Long 37, Palumbo 36, McCartney 32, Edwards 30, Gorham 26, Fields 23) and seven over 100 digs (Fields 444, McCartney 378, Gorham 302, Long 268, Palumbo 256, Warrick 126, Hipfl 102) bear out a balanced team.
    “There’s no individuals,” Buche said. “It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, it doesn’t matter who’s playing well, as long as they’re winning, that’s all they care about. They have a lot of fun together. They like to joke around. But, at the same time, they know we have to take care of business and we have to continue to prepare for other teams and do well when we get out there. They’ve done that all year.”
    The Raiders have a 3-3 record this year against state-qualifying teams — two losses to 4A top seed Chanute and one loss to back-to-back-to-back 3A qualifier Southeast, two wins over Southeast and one win over 2A qualifier Uniontown. Frontenac also defeated 5A Wichita West in tournament play.
    “We have really high expectations going into Saturday,” Buche said. “We want to make it to Saturday.”
    Frontenac opens with Topeka Hayden (18-13) at 9:30 a.m., then Buhler (22-17) at 11:30 a.m., and closes out Friday with McPherson (38-4) at 1:30 p.m. All matches are played at the Salina Bicentennial Center.

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