A record of 28-11 and a 4th consecutive sub-state finals appearance were among the highlights of the Pratt High School volleyball team this year.
Each season under head coach Dean Rausch the Greenbacks have shown progress toward that elusive state tournament appearance. This year was no exception, the girls very nearly had the sub-state title in their hands. “This year’s sub-state final went down to the wire,” head coach Dean Rausch stated. “Each year has seen us get closer to state.”
Rausch pointed to increased team numbers and a developing tradition of expecting to win as signs that the Greenback program continues on an upward trajectory.
The tournament victory at Lyons was mentioned by Coach Rausch as a season highlight. “To win it, we had to beat a very talented Ell-Saline team,” he said. “That might have been our best game of the season.”
The Frogs finished 3rd (7-2) in the very competitive CKL behind 3A state champion Hillsboro and Hesston.
It was a season that began with a lot of question marks that had to be addressed. A different style of volleyball was going to have to be played with the graduation of Aubrey Hoover and the loss of Peyton Hoeme to injury. Suddenly, the overwhelming height advantage the Greenbacks had enjoyed was no longer there. Then, injuries to other key personnel as the season progressed put the Frogs in a bit of a bind.
“That was an incredible challenge for us,” Rausch admitted. Different alignments and rotations were used throughout the season, and players were expected to try on different roles as the Greenbacks tried to figure out what was going to work best for them.
“I think we got the most out of our abilities,” Rausch said. “We did the best that we could have hoped to.”
PHS will lose four players to graduation off this year’s team. Hayden Pixler was a serving specialist whose efforts in that realm will be missed. Whitney Tilley was an important attacker who was 5th on the team in kills this year. Server Emily Hook unfortunately spent much of the end of the season on injured reserve as did starting libero Andi Gripe.
“Andi was a big loss for us this season when she was hurt, and we’ll miss her defensive contributions next year. It’s like losing your middle linebacker,” explained Rausch.
Despite the loss of those players to the cap-and-gown express, Coach Rausch should have a strong nucleus returning next year. “Stonie Flemming really developed this year,” Rausch mentioned. “She came on and really hit hard.”
Page 2 of 2 - “Amy Olson was another girl who improved this season,” Rausch continued. “She was an all-around player, and her passing especially got better.”
Jaci Kolm and Jenson Maydew, the two leading setters and attackers this year for PHS, will also both be back. Lauren Rambat saw lots of time at libero after Gripe was sidelined. Bailey Gillig was a valuable backline player who will also return.
The pieces look to be in place for another run into the post-season next year. Only time will tell if the fifth try will be the charm for the Lady Greenbacks to get past the sub-state finals and make it to the state tournament.
Maydew 46; Kolm 43; Gillig 28; Hook 23; Buntemeyer 13; Olson 13; Pixler 11; Rambat 10
Maydew 411; Kolm 187; Flemming 131; Olson 97; Tilley 59; Swank 24; Bailey 34; Garten 14
Kolm 506; Maydew 243; Swank 26; Garten 15; Flemming 15; Bailey 14
Maydew 70; Garten 26; Tilley 25; Flemming 20; Kolm 18
Gillig 156; Rambat 106; Olson 56; Kolm 44; Maydew 31; Gripe 29