Lady Eagles dominate 3A state volleyball for second championship
Nov. 5, 2014
Article by Dalton Byrne
On Saturday, the Lady Eagles volleyball team swept the board at the state tournament, going undefeated and winning back-to-back state championship titles.
The team will be honored at a special assembly on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 2:40 p.m. in the high school new gym. The community is invited to attend.
Senior Alyssa Schultejans, who had 24 kills in the championship match against Hillsboro, described the feeling of winning a second state championship.
“Winning back-to-back state championships is an indescribable feeling. We were struck with an overwhelming feeling of relief when we won our last point,” Schultejans said.
In the championship match, the Lady Eagles were never behind in the first set and never trailed Hillsboro by more than three in the second set before ending it with a final kill from Schultejans. The final score: 25-19, 25-19.
Junior Libero Madison Wegner explained why Hillsboro presented the Lady Eagles with their toughest competition.
“I think our most difficult opponent was Hillsboro not only because they have great assets to their team, but we had to face them in pool play and in the championship. It’s hard to beat a good, solid team twice,” Wegner said.
The Lady Eagles fought hard through the semifinal round against Wellsville where they were down 10-19 in the second set. However, the ladies started getting the ball to Schultejans for 10 kills in their next 15 points. Silver Lake defeated Wellsville 25-12 and 25-23.
To get to Saturday, the Lady Eagles dominated Friday’s play, never dropping a game. They defeated Hesston 25-15, 25-17; Hillsboro 25-7, 25-22; and Seneca-Nemaha Central, 25-10, 25-15.
Schultejans broke a state record while ending her high school volleyball career. She had 732 kills this season and 1,985 kills in her career, the state record in all classes. After their state victory, Schultejans was also recognized by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). She was named to the National Under Armour All-American Second-Team. Only 24 girls nationally are named to the first team, as well as 24 being named to the second team.
She shared her feelings about winning the state title as a senior.
“Ending my senior year volleyball season with a state championship was the best possible scenario I could imagine. It was nearly perfect,” Schultejans said.
In addition to Schultejans’ impressive numbers, Junior Setter Taylor White finished with 45 assists and 16 digs on Saturday. Junior Rachel Heiman had eight kills and 3.5 blocks, and Wegner added 27 digs.
Schultejans, White, Heiman and Wegner were named to the All-State Tournament Team. This was Schultejans’ third straight year to be nominated for the distinction. Head Coach Sarah Johnson shared her thoughts on the four all-state team members.
“I felt that all four of those young ladies were very deserving of the recognition. These girls shined last weekend; they've been working hard to be successful, and I'm so very proud of them,” Johnson shared.
Wegner explained how the team mentally prepared for the state tournament.
“We’ve been mentally preparing for this tournament all season because it was our main goal to win state. I think we all had the right mindset with the help of our coaches and positive, hard-working seniors,” Wegner explained.
Johnson shared her method of preparing the girls for such a difficult tournament.
“We prepare like we do for any tournament or match. We stay focused on the task, set high goals and continue to play to our potential. I know it is a privilege to be practicing during state week, so I like to throw in some fun drills and motivators for the girls.
“In keeping things in practice consistent, I believe it allowed our girls to stay calm during intense times and especially during the couple of times we were behind. We always train to convert out of system, and in playing tough teams at state, this was very important,” Johnson said.
Senior Payton Rickel described the feeling of winning a state volleyball championship to end her final season.
“It was perfect after working so hard these last four years. It was just the best way to end my volleyball career,” Rickel said.