Saturday was a long day for the Skyline volleyball team.


Sure, they’ve played in big tournaments before, even played more matches in one day before, but those games were less meaningful than the ones on Saturday.


With their season on the line at the Kiowa County 2A sub-state, they played some of their best volleyball of the year, beating Sublette and Meade before falling to top-seeded Kiowa County in three sets.


Saturday was a long day for the Skyline volleyball team.

Sure, they’ve played in big tournaments before, even played more matches in one day before, but those games were less meaningful than the ones on Saturday.

With their season on the line at the Kiowa County 2A sub-state, they played some of their best volleyball of the year, beating Sublette and Meade before falling to top-seeded Kiowa County in three sets.

“I was proud of the girls,” said coach Summer Younie. “That is by far the best we've played all season - and for an entire game day. I know that every team wants to qualify for state, but I was proud of the way we played. Some of our players have been struggling with confidence, but they played solid Saturday.”

By the third set of the Kiowa County match, the girls were tired, and after spotting the Mavericks an early lead, couldn’t turn the corner and make a comeback.

“I know that we were mentally and physically exhausted - we didn't necessarily play bad, just not with the same enthusiasm we had the second match,” Younie said. “We dug ourselves a big hole at the beginning and just never could get out of it.”

The T-Birds fell in three sets to the top-seeded Mavericks 25-14, 19-25, 25-12. Consequently, Kiowa County was tabbed as the No. 1 seed at the state tournament in Emporia on Saturday, further proof that Skyline played well against a top-level team.

“My seniors – Tia (Gilleece), Ashton (Lee), Leah (McPherson) and Rosena (Startzman) - did a great job, they all stepped up and played well. I will miss each and every one of them next year.”

Perhaps adding to their exhaustion were some close matches throughout the day, starting with seventh-seeded Sublette in the opener. The T-Birds won 25-18, 25-22, to win in two sets, but they weren’t always easy.

“The girls came out fired up and played well most of the match,” Younie said. “There were a few moments when we let up mentally and let them back in the match during the second set, but I was proud of the girls - they didn't lose their cool and they finished the match.”

Gilleece led with seven kills, while Kaitlyn Swonger and McPherson both had six. Ashton Lee and McPherson each had two aces.

In the semi-final match against Meade, the T-Birds had a bit more trouble, taking the game to three sets and winning a close one in the end, 25-16, 20-25, 26-24.

“We served tough the first match and I really think that is what allowed to win the way we did,” Younie said. “The second match was the same as it has been all season, we let up mentally and lost our intensity, we dug ourselves a huge whole and just couldn't get out of it. I was proud of the girls, the way they dug deep during the third set and stuck with it. It wasn't a pretty win, but we pulled through.”

Gilleece finished things off with a powerful kill to put the T-Birds in the finals against Kiowa County. She had nine kills, while Swonger led the team with 11. McPherson had five aces, while Swonger led with three blocks.

Despite falling short of the state tournament, Younie was happy with the performance, and pleased with the amount of experience her underclassmen got this season, as well as on Saturday in a pressure-filled situation.

“We did have some great defensive performances by some underclassmen Harley Weaver, Morgan Flowers, Anna Petrowsky. Kailtyn Swonger played tremendous offensively,” she said. “Also we had Mackenzie Weber and Kailtyn Stark fill in on the right side for Whitney Renner (flu). They both did a great job and got some valuable varsity playing time in some tough situations.”