Smith Center opened up the Class 2A state volleyball tournament with what coach Nick Linn deemed the worst set of the season for the Lady Red.
But once they got that out of their system, the Lady Red started resembling the same team that put up 35 wins during the regular season.
No. 7-seeded Ellinwood dominated early on against Smith Center, handing the Lady Red a 25-10 first-set loss to begin pool play Friday morning at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Smith Center regrouped to win every other set on the day, winning Pool 2 and advancing to Saturday’s 10 a.m. semifinal to meet Garden Plain (33-10).
“We were a little nervous because we hadn’t played that bad all year,” Linn said. “That first set with Ellinwood, we hadn’t done that all year long. I don’t know what it was. Ellinwood plays a little bit of an unorthodox style of a game and we just weren’t ready. But we came out of it.”
Smith Center (38-5) bounced back to take the second set, 25-18, and then reeled off the first 13 points in the third set, but still had to hold off a late Ellinwood rally, wrapping up the set and the match on a kill from Bree Frieling.
“Usually when we shoot ourselves in the foot on missed serves, we don’t overcome that,” Linn said. “When we keep our serves in — we’re not super aggressive with them — but when we keep them in, we’ve got a good enough blocking game and court game that we got good hitters to get them to.
“When our back row is playing good, I think our hitters get their attacks. We’ve got four good hitters and when they get their attacks, we can play better and maybe win, and I think today was a good example of that as the day went on.”
Smiith Center’s best match of the day came in a 25-17, 25-21 win over Wabaunsee, which placed second in the pool to advance. The Lady Red wrapped up the day with a 25-16, 25-23 win over Meade.
“I thought everybody had moments,” Linn said of his team. “I think it was a team effort.”
No. 1-seeded Pittsburg-Colgan (43-0) will meet Wabaunsee (31-11) in the other semifinal.