By Staff for

            PRATT – For the 2022 season opener the Smoky Valley volleyball team traveled to Pratt for the CKL (Central Kansas League) Pre-Season Tournament and came home with a second-place finish after going 5-1 on the day.

            With so many new faces in the lineup but yet still ranked #10 in Class 3A, the Lady Vikings managed to go unbeaten at 4-0 in pool play starting off with a hard fought straight set win over tournament host Pratt 25-20, 30-28.

            In their second match of the day, Smoky Valley needed three sets to defeat Hoisington 22-25, 25-12, 28-26. With the final two matches of pool play they won both in straight sets as they beat Nickerson 25-18, 25-18, and then took care of Larned 25-10, 25-11.

            In the tournament semi-finals the Lady Vikings earned a win over Halstead 25-16, 28-26 before losing in the tournament championship match with Class 2A Hillsboro in three sets, 20-25, 25-21, and 19-25.

            “I was very pleased with how our young ladies stepped up and made great strides as a team today,” pointed out Lady Viking head coach Doug Schneider. “We responded well to some tough moments in our matches today and had to battle back a number of times. I thought we were very composed and relaxed.”

            Among the player highlights, junior setter Adrian Hazelwood reached 1,000 career assists during the tournament as she had an outstanding day finding the hot hitter and putting them in positions to get kills.

            Hope Duncan, a junior outside hitter, also had a solid all-around day according to the coaches who pointed out that she will be one of the players to watch around state this season.

            Coach Schneider made reference to sophomore middle hitter Katja Blanchat for her solid play in a new role this season as she was a force during the tournament as both a hitter and a blocker.

            Schneider concluded his post-tournament reflections by stating, “We had a lot of opportunities to win the championship match against Hillsboro, but we made some mental mistakes, and you just can not do that against a quality team like they are and still expect to win. We learned a lot about what we will need to do from here on out.”

            The Lady Vikings will now gear up for a road trip to Abilene on Thursday, September 1 for a quad against Abilene, Thomas More Prep and Concordia.

(The Staff covering McPherson County Activities can be reached by email at