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Victoria in 1A sub-state

Published on -10/19/2012, 10:26 AM

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For part of the 2012 season, the Victoria High School volleyball team was ranked No. 2 after it won 30 matches and lost in the sub-state championship match last year. However, the Knights have had multiple players suffer illnesses and finished the regular season 1-4, including a pair of losses to Palco and Almena-Northern Valley on Tuesday.

"It's been a struggle the last couple of weeks to keep our game face on a little bit," veteran coach Debbie Bottorf said.

Victoria enters the Class 1A, Division I St. John-Hudson sub-state Saturday with a 17-12 record and the No. 2 seed. St. John, currently ranked second in the classification, is the top seed in the sub-state at 30-6.

Victoria receives a first-round bye and will face the winner of No. 3 seed Langdon/Fairfield (11-15) and sixth-seeded La Crosse (5-25). Start time is 1 p.m. Saturday.

Bottorf, who has coached Victoria since 1998, has never reached the state tournament and has lost in the sub-state final four times. Victoria hasn't reached state in volleyball since 1991.

Junior Rylee Broyles, a starter, has missed the most time with mononucleosis. Senior Audrey Crawford missed the last two matches because of sickness. Bottorf said everyone should be healthy for Saturday.

At league, Victoria lost 25-11, 25-12 to St. John.

"They are a very good team, but I also think they are beatable," Bottorf said. "Every time we have played St. John, in every set, we have been ahead until we get to about 10 or 11 points, and then they kind of pick up steam and we kind of lose steam.

"It's very possible," she added. "We just have to play our game, and we need to play it clear to 25 points. Keep the ball from being overpassed and giving them the easy shots to hit back at us. It will be a tough task, a tall task, but it could be done."

Victoria has mainly counted on four players: senior Ashley Dome, juniors Kristin Huser and Audra Nowak and sophomore Brooke Pfannenstiel. Without Broyles, sophomore MaKayla Crawford came in to play libero. Sophomore Haley Robben has seen significant playing time, too.

"You never know with volleyball one way or the other, but I knew we would have some struggles just as part of the growing process," Bottorf said.

Stockton close to goal

Last year, Mark Wildeman took over the Stockton volleyball and girls' basketball teams, programs that had fallen on hard times. The volleyball squad had won two matches, while basketball had one victory. Last year, Wildeman helped the Tigers finish 12-17 in volleyball and 4-14 in basketball.

When the fall started this year, Wildeman set a goal of 20 victories in volleyball, a benchmark that surprised some.

"I think I got a lot of strange looks back in return in the faces of those kids," he said.

However, Stockton is 18-15 and hosts a Class 1A, Division I sub-state Saturday.

Stockton has the No. 3 seed and will face sixth-seeded Osborne (9-22) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Kensington-Thunder Ridge, receiving votes in the coaches' poll, is the sub-state's No. 1 seed at 28-8.

"With a good run in sub-state, that goal is going to be met," Wildeman said. "To try to understand how good they are has been a little bit difficult."

Stockton has played a difficult Mid-Continent League schedule that includes Class 3A power Phillipsburg and Class 2-1A's Ellis, Hill City and Smith Center. The Tigers defeated Phillipsburg early in the season, a victory that gained notice for the Tigers.

All four teams are at least .500 and Ellis, Hill City and Smith Center have at least 27 victories. Wildeman believes the tough schedule and quality losses will pay off Saturday. Senior Sierra Brown has led the team at the net, while senior Delilah Griebel is strong in the back row.

"We are taking huge strides in the right direction," Wildeman said. "I think other coaches in the league would say the same thing, that we moving to the level of respectability in a really tough conference."

Quinter looking to qualify

Quinter has encountered a tough fall with the passing of Karen Harvey from breast cancer last Thursday. Harvey was the mother of Marissa Harvey, a senior volleyball player. On the court, the Bulldogs have struggled with their longtime rival, Hoxie.

On Saturday, Hoxie is the No. 1 seed in the WaKeeney-Trego Community sub-state and ranked fifth in Class 1A, Division I at 33-2. Quinter is the No. 4 seed at 14-17 and faces fifth-seeded WaKeeney (12-21) in the first round. The winner faces Hoxie, which received a first round bye, in the semifinals.

"If we play like I know we can, we have a very good chance," Blackwill said. "If we can get past the whole thing of playing Hoxie. It's always like we have this mental block when it comes to playing Hoxie that, 'Oh, my gosh, it's Hoxie, we can't beat them.' Then, we if could ever get past that, and if we play our best, then I know we could win it. It depends on which Quinter volleyball team decides to show up to play that day."

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