Cardinals win Goddard Invitational


By Michael Buhler

In a volleyball season of impressive performances, the Cheney Cardinals’ performance at the Goddard Invitational last Saturday might have been their best yet.
The No. 1 team in Class 3A, the Cardinals won all five of their matches at Goddard in straight sets to bring home the first-place trophy, including beating the No. 1 team in Class 4A (Andale), the No. 3 team in Class 2A (Garden Plain), two Class 5A schools and a Class 6A school.
“Last Saturday was a pretty good day overall for our girls,” Cheney coach Sara Walkup said. “As we got closer to the end of pool play and the playoff bracket, I was just trying to keep the girls positive and try to encourage them to execute some of the things we had practiced this last week.”
Cheney won all three of its matches in pool play, defeating Campus (25-13, 25-14), Goddard (25-9, 25-21) and Garden Plain (25-23, 26-24) to advance to the semifinals.
In the semifinals, the Cardinals downed Andover 25-11, 25-15, then faced Andale – which had just one loss on the season – in the finals. Cheney defeated the Indians 25-17, 25-23 to win the tournament.
“Playing Garden Plain for the fourth time is always hard, and they did a great job defending us – so I felt fortunate to get that win at the end of pool play,” Walkup said. “We felt like if we served well against Andover, we would have an easier time, and we were able to do that.
“Then, with Andale, we decided how we would defend them, and the girls really played with no fear and no regrets and came out with a win. A match like that is exactly what you want your team to have before heading into substate.”
Walkup had words of praise for her team after the tournament.
“I thought my middles were great all day,” Walkup said. “I felt like my defense was much improved in the back row, and just about every hitter shined at some point last Saturday.”
The Garden Plain Owls took third at Goddard, bouncing back from a 17-25, 26-24, 21-25 loss to Andale in the semifinals to beat Andover 25-23, 25-15 in the third-place match.
“Goddard was another tough tournament with State-ranked Andale and Cheney, plus larger-division schools,” Garden Plain coach Gina Clark said. “For the most part, we played fairly well – and to go 3-2 on the day and compete with both Cheney and Andale shows we are still improving this late in the season.”
In addition to their close loss to the Cardinals in pool play, the Owls beat Goddard (25-8, 25-19) and Campus (25-16, 25-15) to finish second in their pool.
Ryleigh Stuhlsatz had 56 assists on the day, while Naomi Dooley added 53. Brooke Hammond had 31 kills last Saturday, while Kaylor Wasinger added nine blocks, Sophie Smith had eight aces (seven against Goddard) and Sydney Puetz recorded 63 digs.
“Kaylor Wasinger had a breakout tournament, hitting really well with both speed and velocity,” Clark said. “Our setters, Dooley and Stuhlsatz, are playing at the top of their game and delivering the ball efficiently and effectively.”
Other local teams did not fare as well at the tournament. The Eisenhower Tigers went 1-2, defeating Wichita West 25-8, 25-5, but losing to Andale 17-25, 14-25 and to Andover 20-25, 22-25, a loss that cost the Tigers a chance to make the semis.
“I was not pleased with our play last Saturday,” Eisenhower coach Shelby Allee said. “We played very lethargic and our defense and serve receive were struggling. It was probably our worst game of the season. I was really pleased with the first part of the Andale game. They were talking, moving and playing with a passion that has been lacking recently.”
Meanwhile, the host Lions went 1-2 in their pool, defeating Campus (25-18, 25-27, 25-22), but losing to Cheney and the Owls. Campus lost all three of its contests at Goddard to Garden Plain, the Cardinals and Goddard.
“The Goddard Tournament always proves to be a challenge,” Campus coach Mary Askren said. “I felt really good going into the tournament, having had several solid practices leading up to the tournament day. My practice planning has been intentional; focusing on the little things, which make all the difference in close games. Unfortunately, we just didn’t show up to compete and play like I know we are capable of playing.”