By BRETT MARSHALL
ULYSSES — Entering Saturday's first Great West Activities Conference volleyball tournament, both Holcomb coach Jennifer Barrett and Scott City coach Jordan Shay had similar goals in mind.
They wanted to win as many matches as possible to assist them in getting higher seeds for next Saturday's Class 3A sub-state at Lakin, where the two first-year coaches will guide their respective teams in hopes of earning a berth at the 3A state tournament the following week in Salina.
Neither coach or team won the championship, but the Lady Beavers and Shay came out with the upper hand by going 4-1 for the round-robin tournament compared to 2-3 for Barrett's Lady Longhorns.
Those records pushed the Lady Beavers to 24-13 for the year while Holcomb dropped to 21-14. Seedings for the eight-team sub-state tournament will be announced Wednesday and Southwestern Heights, which won the Hi-Plains League tournament on Saturday in Johnson, will draw the top seed with a 36-2 record. The Lady Mustangs are the defending sub-state champions and placed third at the state tournament a year ago.
For the Lady Beavers, it was a solid performance as they concluded their day with a 25-18, 25-21 victory over Colby. Goodland also finished with a 4-1 mark and since the three teams traded beating up on each other, the percentage-of-games-won tiebreaker went into effect and Colby got a slight nod over the Beavers.
"It's the third time we've beaten Colby this year, and we seem to play well against them," Shay said of their win over the Eagles.
It wasn't that way when the Lady Beavers took on Goodland's Lady Cowgirls. For the second time this season, Goodland had the upper hand and it wasn't even close. The Cowgirls rolled to a 25-18 win in the first set and then drummed the Beavers 25-13 to easily claim the match.
"We've got some mental block with Goodland, and we need to get over it," Shay said of her team's performance in that lone loss of the day. "I don't know if it's that we don't match up well with their people or what. It's the worst we've played all season, but we just needed to forget about that and go on. But I liked the way we responded in the Colby match. For our seniors, the season's winding down and so are their high school careers, so it's time to go and get with it. And they did against Colby."
Scott City senior middle hitter Carissa Chelemedos also had a difficult time in explaining how well the team played all day except the Goodland match.
"I think in our other matches, we were just more talkative and stayed happy," Chelemedos said. "We didn't talk in the Goodland games, and I think we got a little scared. We've lost twice to Goodland, but I'm not sure exactly why we play so poorly against them."
Chelemedos said her team would need to play more consistent if they want an opportunity to compete for the sub-state title next Saturday.
"We just need to play good all the time, and when we do, we have a chance against any team," Chelemedos said.
For Holcomb's Barrett, it was a disappointing effort in the wake of last week's third-place finish at the Scott City Invitational where they had beaten the Lady Beavers and their lone loss was to Class 6A Dodge City.
"We knew they'd be tough matches, but we just had one of those days," Barrett said of her team's performance. "It was just tough. We had hoped to continue to play at the level we had in Scott City, but it didn't happen."
Barrett said the sub-state will be tough as always, especially with Heights and always-tough Hoisington in the eight-team field.
"There's six strong teams in sub-state, and I think on any given day, any of those six are capable of beating the others," Barrett said. "Hoisington always has a deceiving record because they play such a tough schedule. But we're looking forward to it and seeing how well we can play."
At the Hi-Plains League tournament in Johnson City, top-seeded and state-ranked Southwestern Heights repeated as champions by defeating Meade in the championship match (15-25, 25-18, 25-19).
The Lady Mustangs finish the regular season 36-2 and will be the No. 1 seed in this Saturday's Class 3A sub-state at Lakin. Their lone losses are to 5A Liberal and 6A Dodge City.
Heights advanced to the finals with a semifinal victory over Lakin (25-18, 25-14). Lakin had played the Mustangs earlier last week and won the first set of the match that eventually was won by Heights.
In the other semifinal match, Meade outlasted Cimarron 19-25, 25-17, 25-14.
All classes will hold sub-state tournaments on Saturday. In addition to the 3A at Lakin, Wichita County/Leoti will host Class 2A where Elkhart, Stanton County, and Syracuse also will compete.
In Class 1A Division I, Satanta hosts the sub-state where teams include Deerfield, South Gray and Rolla. In 1A Divison II at Ingalls, teams competing include Moscow. Greeley County, Dighton and Healy are at Sharon Springs in another Division II sub-state. Ulysses and Hugoton travel to Nickerson for a 4A sub-state while Garden City is at Wichita Northwest in Class 6A.
All state tournaments will begin Oct. 29 and conclude Oct. 30.