Sunnyslope head volleyball coach Amber LeTarte knew the experience gained from last year’s state title would help this year’s team, but she also knew 2013’s success wouldn’t just guarantee the Vikings a 2014 title. This was especially true when they found out they would be facing top-seeded Ironwood Ridge in the finals. The Nighthawks were as hungry as ever as they were in their first finals in school history despite reaching the semifinals eight times in eleven years.
“You have to respect them because they’re a good team and they want it just as bad as you do,” LeTarte said.
After one set, it looked like Ironwood Ridge might have wanted that title more. The Nighthawks looked in control and cruised to a 25-16 win. Then Sunnyslope’s game-plan began to click.
The Vikings won the next three sets 25-17, 26-16, and 25-22 to their second straight state title.
“We knew coming into it that it was going to be a really close match,” junior middle blocker and Wichita State commit Emma Wright said. “We had to bring it out all on the court.”
Before the match, Ironwood Ridge head volleyball coach Bill Lang said he thought this was the most even match of the year and that both teams knew their paths would cross in the playoffs.
“We knew in the preseason who we would have to play,” Lang said.
The matchup came to fruition, as did the even competition.
“Personally I hate really tight games, but that’s the way everybody wants it. You want a battle you don’t want it to come easy,” LeTarte said. “That was a battle. That was a wonderful state title match.”
The bad news for other Division II teams? The two-time defending champs are in a good position to three-peat, as they bring back a good core of incoming seniors who have experienced two successful playoff runs.