HASTINGS – Abilene was not exactly a polite guest at the Hastings College team camp on Monday. The Cowboys, one of the top 4A teams in Kansas, swept all four of its opponents in the championship pool to earn the team title, edging out Columbus Scotus and Hastings.
Abilene won all seven of its matches on the day, dropping just one set in the process. That was a 22-25 setback against Boone Central-Newman Grove during initial pool play in the morning session.
Below are the final standings of the gold and silver pools from the afternoon session at Hastings College:
Columbus Scotus 5-3
Dundy County-Stratton 3-5
Nebraska Christian 7-1
Thayer Central 5-3
Southern Valley 4-4
Below are the morning session pool results for all 20 teams that competed in the camp:
Columbus Scotus 6-0
Nebraska Christian 3-3
Southern Valley 4-2
Boone Central-Newman Grove 3-3
Dundy County-Stratton 4-2
Thayer Central 4-2
Guardian Angels CC 4-2
High Plains 0-6
Filmore Central 3-3
Here are some notes and thoughts from watching the competition at Hastings College:
Columbus Scotus has a good sized task ahead of it this year to replace its top three attackers, setter and libero while navigating a treacherous schedule. It doesn’t take a whole lot to see that the pieces are there again for Scotus to be successful, but as the team comes together and develops cohesion there are going to be some bumpy spots and that showed Monday. The Shamrocks dropped a 25-18, 25-18 decision to Abilene but then looked sharp in 25-19, 25-14 win over Hastings. Then there is the curious case of its match with Dundy County-Stratton where Scotus won the first set 25-18 before dropping the second 26-24. Scotus, though, will be taller than it has been in a while and there were times its block was really impressive.
Hastings was one of the better stories on the day and definitely showed signs of being vastly improved over its 10-24 record from a year ago. The Tigers went 4-1 in its final five matches before running into the Omaha Skutt buzzsaw in substate, so that momentum from the end of last year and some good talent returning might produce some good things. Cecilia Beahm and Kyla Rickert give Hastings a really good and athletic presence at the net and setter Kelsey Ripperger is back for her senior season.
It might not have shown in wins and losses in the gold pool, but Dundy County-Stratton looked pretty darn good Monday and looks like they will be serious challengers in Class D-1 this year. Aubrey Frederick, a 5-foot-10 senior OH, was outstanding and the Tigers also got good performances from Grace Frederick, Adeline Krutsinger, Allie Behilke and Emily Jones. The Tigers took a set from Columbus Scotus and pushed both Hastings and Abilene before impressively sweeping Bertrand (another D-1 state qualifier last year) 25-16, 25-19.
This was the second time I got to see Bertrand after also seeing the Vikings at Wayne State and I will see them again at Kearney Top 10 Camp later this week. I continue to be impressed with OH Kristine Edgren and the overall play of the Vikings against bigger schools. I fully expect them to be one of the top performing teams this weekend in the D1/D2 division in Kearney.
Nebraska Christian dominated the silver pool, dropping just one set. Claire Ostrand, a 5-9 junior, is about as solid of a full-rotation OH as you will find in Class C-2 and her younger sister Carsyn – a 5-7 sophomore – is one of the state’s best young setters. The Eagles are another team that will also be at the Kearney Top 10 Camp.
Thayer Central was another good story to come out of the Hastings camp after a 13-18 season a year ago. The Titans played a lot of young players last year, including 5-10 sophomore Maggie Harris, and they look to be much improved this season.
Southern Valley competed really well all day and its match with Fullerton was one of the more entertaining matches of the day, which wound up with each team winning a set 25-23. I was mostly impressed with a MH for Southern Valley that was tall and athletic but I did not get her name. Based on the way she looked Monday, though, I’m sure it’s a name I will be hearing about soon.
Fullerton is going to be competitive against just about everyone they play simply because of the ability of 6-2 senior middle Halle Plumbtree, who was dominant at times again on Monday. Her 372 kills last year is the eighth most among returning players in the state, so you can expect Plumbtree to challenge for the state kills leader spot in 2016.
Lawrence-Nelson didn’t get a win in the silver pool, but just the fact that they finished in the top half of the teams in camp is pretty impressive considering the Raiders lost nine players of their Class D-1 state tournament team from a year ago. The Raiders don’t have a lot of height, but they have a very good, although small, OH to build around in Molly McCartney.
Thursday and Friday this week we will be at the Kearney Top 10 Camp. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for updates.