By RICK PETERSON
Washburn Rural's nationally-ranked volleyball team completed a 36-0 reguar season Saturday, posting a 4-0 record to capture the championship in the Emporia Invitational.
Now the real work begins.
"That's exactly what we talked about, that this doesn't mean anything, really, because the reason you play the regular season is to get ready for the postseason because that's what people remember,'' Rural coach Kevin Bordewick said.
"We're only worried about practice on Monday, getting better at some thing on Monday.''
Washburn Rural, currently No. 8 in the AVCA/USA Today national rankings, cruised through the Emporia tournament, posting wins over Maize (25-8, 25-15), Lawrence (25-11, 25-11) and Free State (25-21, 25-14) before clinching the championship with a 25-10, 25-14 win over host Emporia.
But as good as the Junior Blues have been in recording the first perfect regular season in Bordewick's 27 years as Rural's coach, he firmly believes his team can still reach another level.
"I do, and they think that, too,'' Bordewick said. "They know that they can play better. We gave up too many easy points. We can sharpen some things up.
"We're not striving for perfection, but we want to be excellent in what we do and we've got another gear or two. I know we do.''
As it has all season, Rural got a big performance Saturday from juniors Brooklyn DeLeye and Taylor Russell and sophomore Jada Ingram at the net, while setters Zoe Canfield, a sophomore, and senior Katelynn Brogan were nearly flawless in getting the ball to Rural's hitting stars.
"I normally just try to concentrate on getting the ball into the vicinity of where they need it and then based on whatever they say on adjustments I try my best to make them,'' Canfield said.
"I love setting,'' Brogan said. "Being able to set to hitters that you know are going to do their job and put the ball away, it just brings joy to you. When you're setting to hitters that don't put it away you kind of get frustrated because you feel like it's your fault, but when the hitter puts it away you kind of look back and you're like, "They couldn't have done that if I didn't set it.' ''
Rural, which is 932-218 with seven Class 6A state championships under Bordewick, will host a 6A sub-state tournament on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the state tournament at Salina Oct. 29-30. Sub-state pairings will be determined on Monday.
"I think we just need to focus on getting better each day at practice and the rest will take care of itself,'' Canfield said.
"I'm excited,'' Brogan said. "We have one week until sub-state and we're going to work our tail off during that week and do what we've been doing the whole season.''
Seaman posted a 2-2 record in the Emporia tournament despite being without senior standout Drew Baxter.
The Vikings, who posted a 23-10 regular-season record, beat Shawnee Mission North (25-20, 25-10) and Lawrence (25-21, 25-21) and dropped matches to Free State, which took a 25-22, 25-13 decision and Bishop Carroll, which posted a 25-19, 17-25, 25-20 victory over the Vikings.