By RICK PETERSON
After back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the Class 5A state tournament and returning a strong nucleus from its 2022 team, there was a certain amount of pressure on Seaman's volleyball team this season.
"At the start of the season there were a lot of expectations and I think we might have got down on ourselves for a little bit, but I think we've built our confidence back up,'' Seaman senior Brooklyn Gormley said.
And in the end, Tatiana Dowling's 33-6 Vikings were able to handle everything thrown at them, advancing to to their fourth straight state tournament with a 25-16, 25-15 win over Newton in the final of Saturday's 5A sub-state tournament at Seaman.
"We never discount any team when we're coming into this type of situation,'' Dowling said. "I felt like we came out flat (in the semifinals) against Eisenhower and it showed a little bit and then we picked it up throughout the game and definitely did a better job against Newton.
"I don't think that they have felt the burden of expectations. They come out and work hard every single day ... I think that they just meet every challenge and it's been really good.''
Seaman was the No. 4 sub-state seed in the West and senior Brooklyn Gormley said the Vikings felt some nerves early in the day but that the butterflies quickly dissapated as the day went on.
"I think there's always some nerves but we were pretty confident going into it just because of the way we've been playing,'' Gormley said. "We've made so much improvement this season and I think we were ready.''
Seaman is the No. 4 seed for the 5A state tournament and will open its state bid in Pool 1 at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning at Tony's Pizza Events Center in Salina against No. 5 Spring Hill (31-8).
The Vikings will also face No. 8 seed Andover (29-9) at 10:30 a.m. and top seed Andover Central (38-1) 1:30 p.m..
On the other side of the 5A bracket are No. 2 seed Maize South (35-3), No. 3 St. James Academy (32-4), No. 6 Lansing (28-8) and No. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas (27-8).
The top two teams in both pools will advance to 9 a.m. semifinals on Saturday, followed by the championship and third-place matches.
Seaman dominated the sub-state final against Newton, which advanced with a tough three-set win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
The Vikings jumped out to early 7-2 and 12-5 leads over the Railers and went on to build 17-8 and 20-9 leads before closing out the first-set win.
Seaman took an 8-4 second-set lead on a kill from junior Raegan McGivern and went up 13-4 on a block from Gormley.
A Gormley kill gave Seaman a 14-5 advantage and another Gormley kill put the Vikings in command at 16-6.
McGivern registered a kill to give Seaman a 22-9 and the Vikings were able to close out the victory after a min-run from Newton (20-13).
Semifinals -- Seaman def. Eisenhower, 25-21, 25-21; Newton def. Kapaun Mt. Carmel, 25-19, 16-25, 32-30.
Championship -- Seaman def. Newton, 25-16, 25-15.