HESSTON — The Hesston volleyball team has some unfinished business.
The Swathers took second in the Class 3A State Tournament last year and they have been on a mission to return to take that one final step.
They punched their ticket to Emporia on Saturday by overwhelming the sub-state field with three lopsided wins before a spirited hometown crowd.
Hesston defeated Wichita Independent (25-9, 25-17), Halstead (25-16, 25-5) and Eureka (25-18, 25-15).
The Swathers take a 37-3 record to White Auditorium for pool play on Friday as they make their fourth straight appearance at state.
“This was a long day with all seven matches played on one court, and we had to play the first and the last of those,” Hesston coach Jason Peters said. “The girls did a great job of refocusing for each match and coming out with energy and persevering, even when we made some mistakes and couldn’t build a lead as early as we would have liked in several of the sets.”
The Swathers were on their game most of the day.
“We passed well on serve receive throughout the day, which was a key to our success,” Peters said. “Even when we made some serving or hitting errors, we were able to side out at 70 percent for the whole day, which prevented our opponents from going on a run to catch up or pull ahead.”
Peters thanked the Hesston supporters, who lent energy to the hometown team.
“There was a great crowd on hand to watch the tournament and it was a very loud and energetic atmosphere,” he said. “It was nice to be able to host sub-state for the first time in a number of years and I was proud of the girls for stepping up and competing well at home. Hopefully we can continue the energy and determination next week at state, when we will need every advantage possible to be successful against some very talented teams.”
Kailey Jo Ince pounded 34 kills in the three matches while Alaina Dunlavy totaled 66 assists. Mia Loganbill had 20 digs.
Hesston, despite its record, is only the No. 3 seed. Nemaha Central (40-3) is the top seed in the Swathers’ bracket, which also includes defending champion Silver Lake (32-6) and Erie (33-6).
Hesston plays Erie at 8:30 a.m., Silver Lake at 10:30 and Nemaha Valley at 1:30.
Thomas More Prep (38-2) is the top seed. Also in its bracket are Wellsville (29-11), Cheney (34-5) and Beloit (34-5).