Garden City High School’s volleyball team will be making a return trip to the Class 6A state tournament in Salina on Friday after winning a substate meet Saturday at Dodge City.
This is the sixth consecutive year the Buffaloes, now 19-13, will compete in the tournament.
"Opening up the afternoon against Dodge City, you could definitely tell we had some nerves to work through," GCHS head coach Trista Bailey said. "Facing any team four times in a season is tough, let alone a host team and a rivalry that runs pretty deep. We caught our rhythm early in the second set and never looked back."
Garden City knocked off Dodge City in straight sets, 25-23 and 25-13.
Five Buffaloes recorded a service ace in the match: Abby Parr, Gisselle Gutierrez, Julie Calzonetti, McKenna Jagels and Melody Flores. Calzonetti led the team with nine kills, while Jagels added seven. Abby Ellermann and Symone Simons each had three kills and Flores added two.
On the defensive side, Flores had two blocks while Ellermann and Simmons each had one. Parr led the team with 13 defensive digs while Flores had 12 and Calzonetti added 10. Mya Cruz had nine digs in the match while Jagels had four. Gutierrez and Simmons each had two.
The match against Hutchinson was more of a battle, though, as it took the Buffaloes three sets to defeat the Salthawks, 26-24, 18-25 and 25-18.
"Hutch has been on our radar all year," Bailey said. "We know they are always a potential match up in our post season, and they’ve made their way into the rankings for the last couple of weeks, so we’re excited for the opportunity to prove ourselves against a good team."
Calzonetti led the team in kills with 18 and Ellermann had 13. Jagels finished the match with seven kills while Flores had six and Simmons added two. Jagels led he team with two service aces. Calzonetti, Flores and Cruz each had one ace.
"Hutch has multiple offensive weapons, and they forced us into some adjustments defensively that we weren’t able to execute in the second set," Bailey said. "However, our kids made plays when they needed to down the stretch and I’m really proud of their toughness."
Five Buffaloes had double-digit numbers in defensive digs in the match. Parr led the way with 21 and Calzonetti had 17. Gutierrez, Jagels and Cruz each had 11. Flores added eight digs. Ellermann and Simmons each had four. Simmons had the lone block in the match for Garden City.
"It’s hard to wrap your brain around the fact that for the last three seasons, our senior classes have taken home WAC (Western Athletic Conference) and sub state championships all four years in their career," Bailey said. "It’s just an incredible run and I’m so proud that this group was able to continue the run for another year."