Every match for the sixth seed in a six-team volleyball tournament is an opportunity to pull off an upset.
Marion was the sixth seed Saturday in the Heart of America League tournament in Sedgwick, but there were no fairytale endings, as the Lady Warriors came out on the losing end of all five matches they played.
Marion head coach Deanna Thierolf was at a loss to explain what happened.
“We had such a great ending to our regular season against Canton-Galva and Berean,” Thierolf said. “We had a great week of practice, we really did. They got down and I just couldn’t get them back up.”
In three of the matches Marion was the heavy underdog. League regular-season champion Sedgwick came into Saturday ranked fifth in Class 3A. Trinity Catholic of Hutchinson was ranked 10th, and Ell-Saline was ranked as the best Class 2A team in the state.
The Lady Warriors lost all three of those matches, and the losses against stronger competition took their toll when they met the fourth and fifth seeds. They lost in three games to Moundridge, and in two to Remington.
Theirolf said the Lady Warriors opening round loss to Sedgwick sapped the team’s intensity.
“The girls wanted to beat Sedgwick so bad, and when they didn’t, I think it punched a hole in their gut,” Thierolf said.
There was one positive takeaway for the Lady Warriors that provided a reason for optimism as they look ahead to sub-state play Saturday in Halstead.
Sandwiched between 17-25 and 10-25 losses to Sedgwick was a 25-20 Marion victory.
“That was our first time beating them,” Theirolf said.
Pairings for the sub-state tournament were scheduled to be released today, but the Lady Warriors are likely to draw either Sedgwick or Class 3A top-ranked Hillsboro in the first round. Defeating Sedgwick is something Thierolf can use for motivation.
“We’ve proved we can play with anybody, if we play to that level,” Thierolf said. “We’re just so inconsistent.
“What do you do? You start over on Monday with a new season, because it doesn’t matter what your record is going into substate. You have to play with emotion, have fun, and put more points on the board than your opponent.”
Halstead, Haven, Trinity Catholic, Lyons, and Remington are the other teams competing in the substate tournament at Halstead.