By Todd Fertig

Seaman volleyball cruised to two wins at the Vikings' home triangular Tuesday and added an important piece to their team in the process.

The Vikings handled Shawnee Heights and Topeka West, continuing their mission to return to the state tournament for the third consecutive season.

BrooklynGormley2023 2Seaman senior Brooklyn Gormley serves the ball during the Vikings' UKC sweep over Shawnee Heights and Topeka West Tuesday at Seaman. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

TaylinStallbaumer2023 1Seaman senior Taylin Stallbaumer sets the ball during Tuesday's UKC triangular at Seaman. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

“I feel like we’re really progressing well. We’re still not completely flowing together, but I think it will come,” Seaman senior Brooklyn Gormley said. “We’ve got to just keep working and know that we can beat any team if we play together and play our game.”

“I think we just need to put it all together all the time,” added Seaman coach Tatiana Dowling. “We do something really good one night, then something else really great the next night. We just need all the parts to come together and make it a whole.”

Gormley said that the 25-13-, 25-11 victory over Shawnee Heights in particular demonstrated progress by the Vikings.

“We’ve been really going at it lately in practice, working to keep our energy up,” Gormley said. “The last time we played Shawnee Heights we were kind of down and it was a back-and-forth match. This time I think we really stuck with it and pushed and made it our speed.”

Shawnee Heights went one and one by defeating Topeka West.

“I don’t like always looking at the score to see how we did,” Shawnee Heights coach Sami Kearney said. “I thought we competed well with Seaman, but the score definitely didn’t show that. I thought we had great rallies with them and played OK, but they have a lot of power, which is something we have got to work on and adjust.”

After falling to Seaman in the opening match, Shawnee Heights had to rally to pull out a victory of Topeka West.

The T-Birds stumbled after gaining a 17-12 advantage in the first game against the Chargers, with Topeka West not taking a lead until the second-to-last point of the game. The Chargers completed the comeback, winning the first set 25-23.

The same script was nearly repeated in the second game between the T-Birds and Chargers. Shawnee Heights jumped out to a 20-15 lead before letting it slip away. Topeka West came back to tie the game at 20-20.

“We came out a little slow against Topeka West. We didn’t bounce back as well as I would have liked from the match with Seaman,” Kearney said. “That’s still room for improvement. We’re dealing with some younger kids and how to take some leadership roles and how to handle that.

“Topeka West had some great hitters out there, and I told the team ‘They’re going to get some kills. You just got to rebound and relax and come back to it.’ ”

Kearney’s T-Birds rallied to win the second game 25-22, then gutted out the third game, 25-18.

“I was proud that we did, but I would rather that we finish right away,” Kearney said. “I was glad to see the fight to come back and win that second and third game. We’re a work in progress.”

Dowling was pleased to see Seaman junior Reagan McGivern back on the floor. A second-team United Kansas Conference performer as a sophomore, McGivern has been working her way back from injury.

“It was nice that we got to work her into some rotations and see what she looks like in rotations with the rest of our offense and then change up our defense a little bit, too,” Dowling said. “That was really helpful. Then we can build off of those rotations, because it’s weird when you throw a whole new rotation in a month into the season.”

Dowling said she expects her team to learn a lot about itself this Saturday when the Vikings host the Seaman Invitational, which will bring powers like Maize South, Bishop Carroll and Bishop Miege to Topeka.

“I think this coming weekend is going to be a really good test for us,” Dowling said. “I’m looking forward to that and that will give us a good gauge of what we need to do coming into the second half of the season.”


Seaman def. Shawnee Heights 25-13, 25-11; Shawnee Heights def. Topeka West 23-25, 25-22, 25-18; Seaman def. Topeka West 25-9, 25-4.

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