By BRETT MARSHALL
The Lady Buffs qualified singles player Claire Schmidt and the doubles team of Jannette Martinez and Kaylee Keller for the Class 6A state tennis tournament with sixth-place finishes on Saturday at the regional tourney in Maize.
Those three players will begin play at the state tournament on Friday in Prairie Village at the Harmon Park Tennis Complex.
It’s the first time in Robinson’s tenure as coach that he will take both a singles player and a double team to the state meet.
“It’s really good for the kids to get half the team qualified,” Robinson said. “With our schedule bunching up here at the end of the season, the girls came in match-tough and I think they played better than they had all year.”
For Schmidt, it will be her second consecutive trip to state after qualifying a year ago in the doubles competition.
The sophomore No. 1 player for the Lady Buffs defeated Jessica Biby of Wichita North, 6-0, 6-0, in her first-round match and then was dropped by Lindy Wilkerson of Wichita Northwest, 6-0, 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Coming back through the consolation side of the bracket, she beat Kelly Brauer of Dodge City, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 for just the second time in six matches this season to reach the 5th-6th place match, thus automatically qualifying. She lost 6-0, 6-4 in that match to Daphne Cavallaro of Wichita Northwest.
The match with Dodge City’s Brauer was notable on several counts. First, it was the match that qualified Schmidt into the 5th-6th place match. Secondly, the match went three sets, with Schmidt outlasting her rival. In two earlier matches this season, they had gone to tiebreakers to determine the winner.
Schmidt will take a 21-19 record into the state tournament.
Martinez and Keller won their opener over Burkey/Hovey of Campus, 6-3, 6-3, before losing to second-seeded Hannah Weber and Allison Reiser of Hutchinson, 6-4, 6-0. That put them into the consolation side where they defeated Baylosis and Zavala of Campus, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3) in tiebreakers before losing to Ashton and Melisa Fee of Hutchinson, 6-4, 6-2, to finish sixth.
Bryttany Landon, Garden’s second singles player, lost her opener to Brauer, 6-3, 6-1, and was eliminated. The Lady Buffs remaining doubles team of Allison Doll and Tania Carmona-Pastrana, lost their opening match to Vanessa Campos and Kalyn Rhodes of Wichita South by scores of 6-0, 6-2.
Junior Alex Miller continued her strong fall cross country season with a fourth-place finish on Saturday at the El Dorado Invitational, run at Bluestem Point at El Dorado State Lake.
Miller’s time of 14:41 over the 4-kilometer layout paced the Lady Buffs to a third-place team finish with 93 points, well back of champion St. Thomas Aquinas with 32, and Bishop Carroll with 43 points. Both are Class 5A schools.
Miller finished in back of Carroll’s top two runners — Kaelyn Balch (14:11) and Katherine Dillard (14:32) while Bailee Cofer of St. Thomas Aquinas was third in 14:35.
Teammate Kayla Doll was close behind in seventh place with a time of 15:01 while Chelsea Jackson and Katy Doll were 22nd and 23rd, respectively, with times of 15:43 and 15:44. Maria Rodriguez and Neysa Harman captured 41st and 43rd with marks of 16:19 and 16:20 while Savannah Peters was 75th with a time of 17:15.
On the boys side, the Buffs finished ninth against a strong field in the team standings with 246 points while Wichita North garnered the top spot with 61 points.
Jacob Thomas was the top finisher for the Buffs, taking 24th with a time of 16:58, well back of winner Brandon Lewis of Derby, who was clocked in 15:37.
Cody Nagel was next for Garden in 34th with a time of 17:08. He was followed by Jalen Rowland in 61st (17:31), Heath Winkelman in 63rd (17:33), Aaron Peters in 68th (17:40), Chris Resley in 73rd (17:45) and Brett Cady in 85th (17:56).
“It was a really good day considering the course and when we compared times to last year, it seems as though everyone is running faster,” GCHS coach Krista Linenberger said. “I feel like the kids are running well and this will give us momentum into the final three meets of the season (league, regional, state).”
Linenberger said Miller’s and Kayla Doll’s continued strong placings were indicative of their off-season training.
“They’ve really stepped up their last half-mile in the races this season,” Linenberger said. “It’s been their trademark style of running this season. They’re just so much stronger.”
The Buffs will be hosting the Western Athletic Conference meet at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course. The Lady Buffs are the defending league champions. Junior varsity girls and boys will run prior to the varsity girls and boys races.
After opening with a convincing 25-4, 25-7 victory over Wichita West at Saturday's Derby Invitaitonal, the Lady Buffaloes volleyball team met up with the state's No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A.
And despite losing 25-7, 25-13 to the Lady Junior Blues, head coach Sara Stecki felt like the team was playing well to that point.
Then, things steamrolled for her team, and they went into a tailspin, losing 25-18, 25-20 to Maize South, to Wichita East 25-18, 25-23. That dropped them into a consolation match against Wichita Heights where they were dealt a 25-11, 25-19 loss.
"I told the girls we actually played well against Washburn Rural and Maize South," Stecki said. "Those are really good teams. Rural doesn't have any weaknesses, they're fundamentally sound and they're sound in every phase of the game."
Stecki said the second set against Washburn Rural was much improved and their loss to Maize South was closer than they had been a week earlier at the Wichita Heights tournament.
"After that, we seem to have just imploded," Stecki said. "The big question is how do we play our game, motivate ourselves, when we're playing against teams like Wichita East, Wichita Heights? Those are teams that we are capable of beating. We've got to find that spark, and we've got some good ideas to build on that idea this week in practice."
The 1-4 tournament mark left the Lady Buffs with a season record of 14-12. They will compete on Saturday in Liberal at the Western Athletic Conference tournament where they are the defending champions. First-round matches begin at 10 a.m., but the Lady Buffs won't be playing until approximately 11 a.m. when they open defense of their title against Great Bend. They follow with matches against Dodge City, Liberal and Hays.