The Blue Comets were one point away from sweeping their way to a Class 4A sub-state title. But they had an awful time getting that last point against their finals opponent, Circle. The Thunderbirds ran off a string of five straight scores, rattling the Blue Comets, who just wanted to start celebrating.
The Blue Comets advance to the Class 4A Tournament in Salina, where they lost in the first round last year. With a 34-1 record, they now expect to compete for their first state title.
Their biggest challenge?
“Just staying focused,” Chanute coach Gail Petersen said. “I have a very excitable ground of girls. They’re very tight; they’re very close and that is certainly in our favor. But they are very excitable. At the end (against Circle), they were feeling it. They have to stay focused and they have to finish, and that’s probably the hardest thing.”
A couple things worried Chanute going into the finals.
First, Circle was older and more experienced. Even with record that wasn't as impressive as Chanute's – the Thunderbirds finished 24-17 – they had clearly played a superior schedule.
Chanute’s only loss this season was just a couple weeks ago, also in El Dorado’s gym, against Class 5A Valley Center.
“I really think the girls can play at that level, but we need more of those on our schedule,” Petersen said. “We need to play more Valley Centers. I think they’re going to fight for (a state title) but I wish we’d played harder competition.”
In the semifinals, Chanute defeated El Dorado 25-19, 25-19. It was the second meeting between the teams this season, and a lot more competitive than the first.
“We looked at video, video, video,” El Dorado coach Jane Squires said. “Chanute is a good team with a lot of weapons. We looked a lot of what their tendencies were and anticipated what was coming up. Our blockers did a nice job, especially considering my tallest kid’s 5-8.”
The Blue Comets have four players 6 foot or taller, including 6-3 Macy Flowers, who is only a sophomore. Flowers has already given an oral commitment to Kansas State, which is no surprise: Both her parents are K-State graduates and Flowers wants to follow her mother’s footsteps by becoming a veterinarian.
“Macy’s really into 4-H,” Petersen said. “She went to the state fair in nine events with her horse, and placed in eight of them. She’s something else. She’s as sweet as they come. But don’t get in her way on the volleyball court. She will take you out.”