By NICK SCHWIEN
It would have been easy for Robin Van Laeys to put on some coachspeak.
But the head volleyball coach at Logan High School wasn’t about to do that.
She realized her team knew what was on the line in its final match Friday at the Class 1A Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
“When it’s down to the wire, you can say, ‘No pressure. No pressure,’ ” Van Laeys said. “But they all don’t buy it. They’re smart enough.”
Indeed, the Trojans were. Van Laeys’ squad knew exactly what had to be done: Beat Beloit-St. Johns-Tipton, and Logan was into Saturday’s semifinals.
“There was a lot of pressure, but we tried not to think about it all — just go out and play,” said junior Christen Greving.
That’s exactly what Logan (34-7) did en route to a 25-20, 25-21 victory against the Blujays, securing a spot in the semifinals for the second year in a row. In 2013, Logan was fourth at state.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors this year, and we feel like we have a lot of experience coming in here,” Van Laeys said. “But we know there’s some really good ball clubs in front of us.”
Logan will play Fowler (28-10) in Saturday’s 10 a.m. semifinal, while Axtell (27-15) will face Sharon Springs (34-4).
Logan started with a dominating 25-19, 25-12 win against Argonia before being tripped up by Axtell, 27-25, 25-16.
That forced a do-or-die situation for the Trojans — and the team rose to the challenge.
Logan kept the Blujays off-balance at the net to earn the win.
“Our blocking was really the big difference,” Greving said. “We played good at the net.”
Her coach agreed.
“I felt our net play was huge,” Van Laeys said. “We dominated the net all across our front line. We struggled serving some today, which is not us. We are usually a very good serving team. In that last match, we served better finally.”
Greving, who played a big part with her kills and blocks against the Blujays, said the experience from a year ago helped the team at state this year.
“We’re not really dazzled by everything going on,” Greving said. “Our experience has really helped.”
Logan’s lone loss to Axtell — which was making it’s first trip to state in nine years — helped the Eagles secure the top seed from the pool.
In the other pool, Fowler escaped with the No. 1 seed by means of a 3-0 record.
Sharon Springs edged Wheatland-Grinnell for the second seed from the pool, setting up their semifinal against Axtell.
The Wildcats beat Sylvan-Lucas to open the tourney Friday before falling in three games to Fowler.
Sharon Springs dismantled the Thunderhawks in the first game of the set, but Wheatland-Grinnell rallied to win the second game.
“They were spent,” said Sharon Springs coach Paulette Unruh, who watched her team win the deciding game by five points. “We haven’t played many three-game matches all year. But you know what, it was good for us. It will help us for tomorrow.”
Unruh said the seniors on her team helped provide motivation after the loss to Fowler, setting the tone for the deciding match against Wheatland-Grinnell.
“I told the girls things really haven’t changed. We still had a chance,” she said.
Class 1A Division II
Sharon Springs def. Sylvan-Lucas 25-21, 25-23; Fowler def. Wheatland-Grinnell, 25-17, 25-27, 25-22; Fowler def. Sharon Springs, 25-16, 17-25, 25-23; Wheatland-Grinnell def. Sylvan-Lucas, 22-25, 25-22, 25-16; Fowler def. Sylvan-Lucas, 25-19, 25-15; Sharon Springs def. Wheatland-Grinnell, 25-13, 22-25, 25-20.
Logan def. Argonia, 25-19, 25-12; Axtell def. St. Johns-Tipton, 22-25, 25-20, 25-15; Axtell def. Logan, 27-25, 25-16; St. Johns-Tipton def. Argonia, 25-14, 25-16; Axtell def. Argonia, 25-14, 25-18; Logan def. St. Johns-Tipton, 25-20, 25-21.
10 a.m. — Fowler (28-10) vs. Logan (34-7); Axtell (27-15) vs. Sharon Springs (34-4).