Emotions ran the gamut for the Thomas More Prep-Marian and Goodland volleyball teams in Tuesday’s thrilling 3A state volleyball quarterfinal at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
In a roller-coaster match, TMP fought off three straight match points to knot it up at 14-14 in the fifth and deciding set.
But Goodland came up clutch to finish the marathon match with two straight points to advance to the Class 3A final four on Saturday at Hutchinson Sports Arena.
The Cowgirls outlasted the Monarchs, 25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 15-25 and 16-14.
"It was a great environment, it was a great match, through and through," Goodland coach Angie Brumbaugh said. "Both teams have a lot of great weapons out there. Our defense was good. We had some great long rallies. The environment was fun.
"That’s what I told the girls at the end, ‘Listen to this! Listen! This is what it is about!’ "
TMP (30-8) fought back from a shaky first set to turn in strong second and fourth sets. But Goodland (34-5), utilizing its depth and a balanced offensive attack, answered with back to take the third and fifth sets.
"I felt like Goodland ran a really clean offense," TMP coach Natausha Dreher said. "They’ve got a heavy arm and they run their offense off the net really nicely. Our blocks just really weren’t working well with that. I feel like for a little bit we kind of got downed and didn’t really run the offense the way we wanted it to — whether it was because we weren’t available and our digs weren’t there, or maybe our feet weren’t ready to attack.
"Goodland’s a good team. I wish them the best of luck."
Brumbaugh said the Cowgirls showed poise when the Monarchs fought back to knot it at 14 in the fifth set after back-to-back kills from Emilee Lane. Goodland went up 15-14 after an attempt sailed out of bounds and then clinched the match when the Monarchs were unable to return a serve.
"We have a saying that we’ve said all year, and part of it is — ’aggressive and relentless and no fear of losing or mistakes,’ " Brumbaugh said. " ’You’ve just got to play with no fear and let’s do what we’ve been doing all season long and let’s finish this.’ "
"Last year, sometimes when we got down we just thought we were done with the game," Goodland sophomore Talexa Weeter said. "But this year (Brumbaugh) taught us, ‘Just don’t play with fear.’ We’ve just done really good with that."
Instead of being intimated by playing in front of a large crowd on the road, Weeter said the Cowgirls fed off the energy.
"A loud atmosphere makes me better, and I think for the whole team, too," Weeter said.
Dreher said it took the Monarchs until the second set to settle into the match.
"There were nerves early on, absolutely," Dreher said. "Nerves playing here at home, nerves playing one or done. They kind of settled in. The thing with this group is they have to play confident and they have to play happy; I think that’s just women’s volleyball in general. You have to play confident and you have to play with a short memory.
"I don’t know if the fear got greater than the fun for a little bit, but they brought it back in the second set."
Dreher said the Monarchs showed toughness fighting back to get the fifth set tied at 14 after deficits of 8-3 and 14-11.
"They are an incredibly tough group," Dreher said.
Sabetha and Pomona-West Franklin will join Goodland in Hutchinson for the final four. The last spot will go to the winner of Wednesday’s match against Lindsborg-Smoky Valley and Cheney in Lindsborg.
Despite the loss, Dreher said the Monarchs cherished the opportunity to play at home for a state match.
"It’s a really, really neat thing to get to play in the pit," Dreher said. "It’s fun, it’s a loud atmosphere. Whenever you play in the pit, it’s always a lot louder down in the pit then it is up there.
"To get to do it at home and for the kids to see how awesome it was for the parents and the community that came out and supported them and them just get to appreciate it .. . You know, it’s been a really weird year, and to get to play this game and still have people there to support them, we’re really thankful for that."
Lane notched 24 kills in the match.
Dreher said she was proud of what her team accomplished and enjoyed coaching the Monarchs’ five seniors — Jadyn Gottschalk, Emilee Augustine, Sophia Mickelson-Coulter, Sasha Wasinger and McKenzie Linenberger.
"They’re a phenomenal team. Their hearts are huge," Dreher said. "That senior class, so much love for each other, so much love for the game and their team. I am dang proud that I got to coach them."