As the sixth seed out of six teams Saturday in the Heart of America league volleyball tournament in Sedgwick, the only chance for Marion High School to advance was to pull off an upset.
The Lady Warriors got that upset in the second match of the day against Bennington, a top-five team in the Kansas Volleyball Association Class 2A rankings for much of the season. The win paved the way to a fourth-place finish in the tournament.
Marion started the day with a stunning win in the first game of their match against Sedgwick, 25-21. The Lady Warriors had been winless in three regular-season matches against the Lady Cardinals.
“We came out like we were really ready to play,” Marion head coach Jim Versch said. “I think we surprised Sedgwick a bit.”
The final score of the first game was the last time Marion held a lead in the match, as Sedgwick quickly returned to form to trounce the Lady Warriors in the next two games, 25-13 and 25-19.
When Bennington notched a come-from-behind 25-20 win over the Lady Warriors in the first game of their match, Marion found themselves on the brink of elimination from the tournament.
Marion built a 22-15 lead in the second game and withstood another furious Bennington comeback to win 25-22, forcing a third game.
This time there would be no Bennington comeback. Lady Warriors Whitney Gordon and Briana Hall dominated on the front line as Marion controlled the game 25-19 to win the match.
“We lost one and still came back and won that match. That was a great match,” Versch said.
“We played pretty good floor defense, and our setters were playing well,” Versch continued. “It was one of those matches we probably could have beaten anybody.”
Sedgwick defeated Bennington in final match of pool play to give Marion a spot in the semifinals against Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson.
Marion battled back from an early deficit to lead 20-17 in the first game against Trinity, but allowed an 8-1 run to hand the game to the Celtics, 25-21. Trinity advanced to the finals by controlling the second game, 25-18.
Marion faced Sedgwick once again in the consolation match, and the Lady Cardinals prevailed in two games, 25-23 and 25-13.
“I don’t know if we were a little psyched out,” Versch said. “It was back and forth, very similar to the first match of the day.”
Marion will take a 13-20 record into substate play Saturday at the USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center, where as the eighth seed they will likely meet Hillsboro or Remington in the first round game at 1 p.m.