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Piper volleyball team
The Piper High School volleyball team won substate last weekend and becomes the first volleyball squad from Piper ever to go to the state tournament. (Piper High School photo)
Piper volleyball team
Last year Piper High School’s volleyball team went 5-15, and this year, Chris Scanlon took over the coaching duties.
With a new coach and a team coming off a losing record last year, Piper surprised the Kaw Valley League with a substate victory last weekend at Tonganoxie. The Lady Pirates are going to the state tournament on Friday morning in Salina, Kan., the first Piper volleyball team ever to go to state.
While Piper’s substate win was a surprise for the league, it was not totally unexpected for the team, as it was the goal they had set, coach Scanlon said.
“We knew we could do it based on our work ethic and how we showed up and worked really hard,” Scanlon said. He comes to Piper after serving as a junior varsity coach at Immaculata High School, Leavenworth.
“We beat Basehor-Linwood at Tongy and they had already beat us twice this year, but my girls knew we could beat them and were really focused,” Scanlon said about substate.
Piper won two out of three sets from Basehor-Linwood, which is 23-16 on the season. Scanlon said he discovered this year that Piper has a rivalry with Basehor-Linwood.
“My girls played best when Basehor was opposite the net for us,” he said. “When it comes to sports, they want to beat each other pretty bad.”
Piper also beat Sumner Academy two sets out of three in the first match at substate.
The Pirates are led by two seniors, Megan Woolley, a go-to player, and Jordyn Tucker, setter, who are the two captains, Scanlon said.
Three other seniors also contribute this year, Kelsea Lawson, Rachael Lauritzen and Tinaris Watson, he said. A junior and a freshman also are key players.
“We are that team that beats you from every angle,” Scanlon said. “We couldn’t do it without every person on the team.”
Only one of the five seniors played a significant amount of time on last year’s squad, Scanlon noted.
“That’s what makes it more impressive, we jelled within one season and came together to win a substate championship, and are playing our best volleyball in the postseason,” he said.
Piper is the underdog at the state tournament. Piper, 22-16, is seeded eighth in the Class 4A, Division 1, state tournament and plays the No. 1 seed, Chanute, which has a 38-1 record, in its first match.
What will the Pirates have to do to win?
“We’re going to have to play great defense,” Scanlon said. “We’re going to have to cover the floor really well. We’re going to have to play hard. We’re going to have to play with some great teams bigger than us.”
But, he notes, the pressure’s not on Piper, which is the underdog. The team isn’t feeling any pressure, it just wants to go out and play volleyball, he said.