State volleyball - B&B rolls to title

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

There wasn't a moment when Dighton head volleyball coach Whitney Linenberger was going to let down her guard and break out in tears.

Instead, what she was feeling, what she was saying was the truth.

Linenberger knew her team played an amazing match and had a great two days at the Class 1A Division II state tournament in Hays. She wasn't about to let a 25-15, 25-16 loss to Baileyville-B&B in the title match Saturday spoil what her team had accomplished this year.

"I'm happy with second place," Linenberger said. "First place would have been awesome, but we knew coming in here Baileyville is a beast and we were going to have to be pretty phenomenal. They're used to this setting. Some of my seniors were sophomores on that first team, so they knew what to expect. They didn't know what the second day looked like, though. It's a lot of pressure, but they handled it well. We're going to miss those four seniors, but I think we have some people in the back ranks that are going to step up and do the work and get the job done."

Dighton (30-14) took B&B to three games in pool play Friday before losing to the eventual three-time state champs. On Saturday, the Hornets had to get by Argonia in the semifinals for another shot at the Falcons (42-3).

Dighton upset the Raiders, 25-15, 25-22 to make the title match.

Meanwhile, B&B made sure the rematch would happen by disposing of Logan, 25-13, 25-8.

"B&B just steamrolled us," said Logan coach Robin Van Laeys. "They're clearly the best team here. We were star struck a little bit, then stood there a little bit. They are deep and can play."

B&B took control early in Game 1 against Dighton, and there was no looking back for the Falcons -- who are consolidating with Nemaha Valley next year.

The Falcons didn't play their best while still finishing pool play with a 3-0 record Friday. On Saturday, the Falcons were flying high and hitting on all strides.

"I saw a different focus from the girls today," said B&B coach Jessica Koch. "I don't know if it was nerves yesterday or what. They seemed at ease, knew what they had to do. We focused on two things today -- having fun and staying mental tough. If something went wrong, just bounce back from it. I think we did a really good job of those two things."

B&B left no doubt in the second game, using kills by seniors Cassidy Hulsing and Laura Sudbeck to give the Falcons a 14-12 lead.

"I think we were more relaxed," Sudbeck said. "We weren't as nervous, as jittery. I felt like we attacked the ball like we would at home. I think we got used to the atmosphere better."

The Falcons kept Dighton seniors Diamond Brown and Shambrey Budd guessing at the net when they went for kills.

"Volleyball is just as much a physical game as it is a mental game," Brown said.

"We put it all out there, though."

B&B increased the lead to 16-12 before Dighton scored again. But it was too late for the Hornets to muster a comeback against the well-seasoned Falcons.

"I felt like when we were playing Baileyville that first game and beating them, I was wondering what was going on here," Linenberger said. "I just kept thinking, 'When are they going to turn it on?' They finally got it together a little bit, but I was really proud of our girls. They know they had to do the best they could do. I'm not disappointed in this at all. This is (B&B's) third time in a row, and they have so many seniors and did a good job and deserve this. But we did a good job, and I feel like we deserved this, too. It was a good season, and I'm happy."

Argonia went on to beat Logan in the third-place match, 25-10, 25-15.

"We're losing two pretty good seniors, and we'll miss them," Van Laeys said. "Our kids coming back are strong and have some experience."