Sure, the Sylvan-Lucas High School volleyball team was excited about the first day of the Class 1A Division I state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

Just as exciting for the Mustangs, though, were they were headed to the semifinals Saturday after a 2-1 finish in pool play.

“It’s big for us,” said Sylvan-Lucas coach Linda Haring. “It’s the first time we’ve made it to the second day since I’ve been coaching. That was a big hurdle to get past. But we’re not done. We didn’t come this far just to come this far.”

The Mustangs were set to play defending champ Centralia (41-1) in the semifinals Saturday morning, with the winner making the title game and the loser falling into the third-place match.

But Haring’s squad sealed a trip to the semifinals with a 19-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory against Atwood-Rawlins County in its second match Friday.

The two area teams battled neck-and-neck all three sets, with the Buffaloes even rallying from a 10-4 deficit to win the first set.

“It was a dog fight,” said Rawlins County coach Sara Schmidt. “We did that early on with Coldwater as well, and our serve receive just fell apart. If you can’t pass, you can’t do much in this game. That was on us. The Sylvan match, we played well. … It was a good match, though.”

The Mustangs (38-3) rallied to win the next two to sit at 2-0, the same record as Coldwater-South Central entering the last match of pool play.

They rode that momentum, winning 25-21 in the first set. But the Timberwolves rallied for the next two, 25-22, 25-13.

“We didn’t see it through like we should have, but hopefully we’ll rebound and come back tomorrow,” Haring said.

“I think we got down too much, too,” Herold said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be back stronger. We just can’t get down.”

The victory gave South Central (39-3) the top seed from the pool, and the Mustangs the No. 2 spot.

“This is really big,” Herold said. “Coach said we were the first team to make it under her. We’re all really excited.”

After the loss to Sylvan-Lucas, the semifinal hopes for Rawlins County (26-12) were dashed.

But Schmidt implored her team to come out and fight to end with a win against Southern Coffey County.

“They know when you lose those two, there’s not much to come out of it after that,” Schmidt said. “I told one of my seniors that this defines their character how they come out in the last match, not just as an athlete but as a person. We weren’t finished, and their character was defined by how they showed up.”

The Buffaloes ended with a 25-14, 25-22 win.