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State VB preview: Tough schedule preps Seaman for 5A tourney

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

Tatiana Dowling's Seaman volleyball team has faced a brutal schedule this fall, with seven of the Vikings' losses in a 25-10 season coming against schools that will compete in the Class 6A and 5A state tournaments this weekend.

Now the goal for the battle-tested Vikings, the No. 7 seed, is to make that tough slate pay off in Friday and Saturday's 5A state tournament at Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina.

"I am really happy with our schedule in the regular season,'' Dowling said. "I think it gives us challenges, makes us better, and prepares us for competition at state.

"With that being said, of course I would like to come away with some wins instead of losses in those circumstances, but I am glad that we have been able to have learning experiences through those games.''

FCzg3ULXIAcnT3TSeaman's volleyball team will make a second straight appearance in the Class 5A state tournament this weekend. [File photo/TSN]

After ending a lengthy state drought last season with a quarterfinal experience Seaman clinched its second straight state appearance with a romp through the Eisenhower sub-state last Saturday at Goddard.

The Vikings took a 25-13, 25-19 semifinal win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel before taking a 25-23, 25-19 victory over Maize in the championship match.

Senior Drew Baxter, junior Laynee Brown and sophomores Taylin Stallbaumer and Brooklyn Gormley all played key roles for Seaman a year ago in a quarterfinal loss at Lansing and Dowling is hopeful that experience will help the Vikings this weekend.

"I definitely think that any state experience helps in the future,'' Dowling said. "It helps our program create a culture and an expectation, but it also helps give us the experience of a state tournament, which we hadn’t gotten before last year.''

And the fact that the Vikings were able to earn a return trip to state speaks well for the program.

"It is definitely something we’re proud of,'' Dowling said. "We make mini-goals throughout the season and this was one of them. Now, we have a goal to make it to the second day of state.

"We’ll continue making goals from there. I try to instill in them to never be satisfied and to keep pushing for more, and I feel like they’ve done a great job of stepping up to that challenge.''

Lansing is the tournament's top seed at 33-1 and is in Pool I along with No. 4 Maize South (30-8), No. 5 St. James Academy (27-9) and No. 8 Bishop Carroll (25-12).

Seaman is in Pool II along with No. 2 seed St. Thomas Aquinas (34-3), No. 3 Spring Hill (30-6) and No. 6 Emporia (26-9)

Seaman will open its state bid at 9:30 a.m. Friday against Aquinas and will face Spring Hill at 10:30 and Emporia at 12:30 p.m.

The top two finishers in both pools will advance to Saturday's 9 a.m. semifinals. The championship and third-place matches will follow the semis.

Seaman faced five schools in the 5A state field in the regular season, taking two wins over Spring Hill and a win over Centennial League rival Emporia and dropping three matches to Lansing while also losing to St. James Academy and Bishop Carroll.

CLASS 5A STATE VOLLEYBALL

At Tony's Pizza Events Center, Salina

FRIDAY POOL PLAY

Pool I (Court A)

8:30 a.m. -- Maize South (4: 30-8) vs. St. James Academy (5:27-9)

9:30 -- Lansing (1: 33-1) vs. Bishop Carroll (8: 25-12).

10:30 -- Maize South vs. Bishop Carroll.

11:30 -- Lansing vs. St. James Academy

12:30 p.m. -- St. James Academy vs. Bishop Carroll.

1:30 -- Lansing vs. Maize South.

Pool II (Court B)

8:30 a.m. -- Spring Hill (3: 30-6) vs. Emporia (6: 26-9).

9:30 -- St. Thomas Aquinas (2: 34-3) vs. Seaman (7: 25-10).

10:30 -- Spring Hill vs. Seaman

11:30 -- St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Emporia

12:30 p.m. -- Emporia vs. Seaman.

1:30 -- St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Spring Hill.

SATURDAY

9 a.m. -- Semifinals

(Consolation and championship matches will begin 25 minutes after last semifinal has concluded)