Having won the Class 3A Sub-State Volleyball Tournament last Saturday in Arma, the Southeast High School Lancers will represent Southeast Kansas in the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon and night in Salina against Hillsboro, Osage City and Effingham-Atchison County.

Having won the Class 3A Sub-State Volleyball Tournament last Saturday in Arma, the Southeast High School Lancers will represent Southeast Kansas in the state volleyball tournament Friday afternoon and night in Salina against Hillsboro, Osage City and Effingham-Atchison County.

Playing at 3:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Salina Bicentennial Center, they must win two of those three matches to advance to Saturday competition and play for the state championship.

Based on their records, Hillsboro is seeded sixth, Osage City second, Effingham-Atchison County third and the 29-11 Lancers seventh. The other pool, from which two semi-finalists will also qualify, consists of Phillipsburg, No. 1; Garden Plain, 5; Eureka, 4; and Goodland, 8.

Southeast coach Cheri Witt had told her senior-dominated squad before the sub-state tourney that they had to out-smart the No. 1 and 2 seeds there, Uniontown and Northeast. “All we had to worry about was ourselves,” Witt said Monday from Cherokee.

“We didn’t have to be the strongest team, just the smartest team. The girls did everything they needed to do to win. Even though our game wasn’t to tip all the time, we knew exactly when to tip and hit the spots on the floor, and that’s won the tournament.”

Along with 5 foot 10 middle hitter Christine Bone, Witt said, other key players in the team’s “5-1” alignment are versatile senior Chaney Fox, equally adept with front row offense and back row passing, “libero,” or defensive specialist Ashley Martin and Bridget McGuire, the lone setter among five hitters.

“It’s nice this year because every single person on the front row is an attacker,” the coach said.

Asked how the Lancers developed the stamina that kept them jumping and reacting quickly throughout eight sub-state games and three matches, Witt said it was by playing in a summer league and working through tough practices and matches.

“We played in three tournaments where we had to play six games a day,” she said.

“It’s been 11 years since Southeast went to state. Everybody is excited. We lost the first two matches this year. That put a fire under the girls. They were ready to get to work after that.

“We look forward to the environment of what Salina has to offer. The level of competition up there is great because Kansas is full of great volleyball.”

Witt said assistant coach Maya White gives the JV girls a good grounding in fundamentals so they can tackle the subtleties of the game when they reach the varsity.  

The school has scheduled a 6:30 p.m. pep rally today in the gymnasium to maximize fan support and encourage people to follow the team to Salina. Former vice principal- coach Rosemary Pender of McCune, who coached Southeast during its last trip to the state tourney, will be guest speaker.

Junior Lancer Shiloh Blockburger, the right front hitter, said the players “are extremely excited because we have girls on the team from two years ago, when we only won three matches.

“We have a lot of heart and are very selfless,” Shiloh said. “If we mess up, we have the rest of the team to get out head back up because we have to do good for them. We’re big on passing. We learn a lot as freshmen on the JV team, and we do the same drills every day so our passing will be crisp.”

James R. Campbell can be reached at james.campbell@morningsun.net.