The Western Athletic Conference volleyball tournament was a display of some of Western Kansas' best volleyball talent, as well as, edge-of-the-seat competition. Three game matches encompassed four of the ten match ups, all involving Dodge City. However, the Garden City Lady Buffs emerged victorious and undefeated with another WAC title.
"It means so much for us to earn this two years in a row," Lady Buff senior hitter Casey Curran said. "We have such good chemistry that we know each other inside and out. We know who should get what ball without having to say it all the time. We just know what each other is going to do and when we are going to do it. That is what makes us so dominant and flow so well together."
Liberal knocked off Hays quickly in two sets 25-19 and 25-23. Great Bend defeated Dodge City in three games 25-17, 22-25, and 25-17. The Lady Demons went defeated throughout the tournament but every match went into three games. They were persistent to say the least and they tested the hearts and minds of every team present. Their first opponent was WAC runner-up Liberal. The Lady Skins took the first game 25-18. Dodge took a 12 point lead in the second game and although Liberal closed the gap with seven unanswered points the Lady Demons fought back 25-21. The Demons could not overcome an eight point deficit and the Skins sealed the last game 25-18.
The WAC title came down to one game: Liberal vs. Garden City. Both teams had taken down their first two opponents and it was a battle of the unbeaten. The first game was tied at 21 points and fan chtter enveloped the gym. The Lady Buffs used it to their advantage earning the first win 25-22. The Lady Skins knew this game meant had WAC crown ramifications.
"We needed to be consistent and stay intense because they have a high intensity throughout the game," Liberal junior Jai Chapman said. "We needed to keep that up and play at our level. We thought we could come back in the second game if we kept them down. We knew we needed to rise up and win that game."
Liberal started with a quick lead in the second game but it did not take Garden City long to overcome it. The momentum shifted rapidly in the Lady Buffs favor. A powerful front three were to credit along with an impenetrable defense. Garden's big kills harnessed every ounce of energy in the gym to add to their momentum and they sealed up the crown 25-22.
"Casey Curran up front is definitely our power hitter and she knows where the spots are," said Garden City head coach Sara Stecki. "Jaymie Bernbeck, this is her first year playing on the outside, she has been big for us. Of course, Tayrn Tempel all the way around. She has that attitude and that fiery spirit that really helped us this season, especially today in that last Dodge game."
The Lady Buffs said the tournament was a huge challenge and their toughest opponents were Dodge City and Liberal.
"I think skills wise Liberal and mentally definitely Dodge because I think the rivalry between the two schools is strong and it is the only conference game we lost all season," Stecki said.
Garden City defended its Western Athletic Conference title and went undefeated throughout the tournament. The Buffalo juniors are mostly proud of accomplishing such a feat for their seniors.
"As a junior this means a lot to us because we wanted to get it for the seniors really bad," said Buff junior Tayrn Tempel. "We have worked so hard all year and it feels like everything that we have worked for has paid off."