By RICK PETERSON
For the first time in a long time, Washburn Rural's volleyball team had its back to the wall Friday night after a first-set loss to Shawnee Mission Northwest in the second round of Class 6A pool play at the Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina.
But the Junior Blues responded about like you'd expect from a undefeated, nationally-ranked team, outscoring its opponents 100-57 the rest of the night on the way to claiming the Pool I title with a 3-0 record.
After starting pool play with a 25-17, 25-16 win over Olathe Northwest, Shawnee Mission Northwest took a 25-20 win over the Junior Blues in the first set before Rural bounced back with a vengeance, evening the match with a 25-20 win and then routing Northwest in the third set, 25-13.
With the brief scare behind them the Junior Blues wrapped up the Pool I title with a 25-16, 25-8 romp past Hutchinson.
Washburn Rural, which improved to 41-0 on the year, will now face Pool II runner-up Blue Valley West (30-10), the defending 6A champ, in a 1 p.m. semifinal Saturday.
Pool II winner Blue Valley North (38-2) will face Olathe Northwest (26-12) in the other semifinal, also at 1 p.m.
The championship and third-place matches will follow the semifinals.