HUTCHINSON, Kan. - No team can win the state championship every year. Topeka-Hayden, however, has given it a go in recent years. Last year, Bishop Miege ended Hayden's three-year run atop Class 4A. Saturday in Hutchinson, the Lady Wildcats returned to the top with a 25-19, 27-25 win over No. 1 Andale in the championship match.
Both title sets remained competitive throughout. Andale hung around at 4-4 in set one before Hayden seniors Krya Bauer and Sydney Hillmer each put down kills for a 6-4 score. Though the Lady Indians hung close for the remainder of the set, Hayden never relinquished its lead.
Andale was still hanging around at 16-13 when Lady Indian senior Morgan Bruna put down a block. The Indians picked up another point to get at close as 16-15 before Hayden began another pullaway with a tip from senior Halle Jackson. The Wildcats nine of the final 13 point in the set.
Hayden carried that momentum into the second set with four-straight points, including an ace from junior Alyssa Dinkel, a kill from Hillmer, and a stuff from Jackson. Andale stormed back with a point from freshman Madeleine Schrandt and two spikes from Bruna to take its first lead of the set at 10-9.
The sides went back and forth after that. Andale led by as many as two points at 11-9, but Hayden struck back for a 15-12 score on an ace from Hillmer. The Lady Indians got a tip from Bruna and a kill from Schrandt to again level the score at 18.
Hayden was inching toward the championship at 21-19 on a stuff from Bauer. Instead, Hillmer thought a ball was tipped and her reaction netted a red card to even the score once more at 21-21. Andale set up a set point at 24-22 only to watch as Jackson and junior Deja Miller took over at the net. Miller put down a big spike and Jackson had two big blocks to give the title back to Hayden.
Andale finishes its season at 39-3 overall. Hayden ends the year at 30-14.
Consolation: Circle def. Louisburg 19-25, 25-21, 26-24
Many times it appeared the Lady Thunderbirds would be going home empty handed after a 2-1 showing in pool play on day one of the state tournament. Circle opened flat in a 25-10 semifinal set against Andale, then nearly won the second set in a 26-24 thriller.
In the other semifinal, Louisburg had a similar showing against Hayden, falling 25-14, 25-18. The Lady Wildcats rebounded by finishing strong in the first set of the third-place match. After a 7-7 tie, Louisburg pulled away 17-13 and never looked back.
Louisburg neared its own piece of hardware with a 17-12 lead in the second set before Circle began the first of two big rallies. The T-Birds eventually took the lead at 19-18 and went on to force a third set. There, Louisburg stormed out to a 9-1 opening. Circle battled all the way back only to fall behind 23-22. The Lady Thunderbirds were able to pick up three of the final four points in the match to secure their third-place trophy.