Every year, the Manhattan High volleyball team gets the chance to measure itself against some of the state’s top volleyball teams at the Shawnee Heights quadrangular meet.
Between Silver Lake (No. 2 in Class 3A), Seaman (No. 6 in 5A), Shawnee Heights (No. 2 in 5A) and Manhattan (No. 9 in 6A), all four participants are state-ranked this year by the Kansas Volleyball Association.
Not surprisingly, four of the six matches on the night went to three sets and all were hotly contested.
Manhattan went 1-2 on the night, losing to Silver Lake and Shawnee Heights, but defeating Seaman in three sets. Silver Lake defeated the Indians 25-21, 25-21, Manhattan beat Seaman 25-19, 24-26, 25-22 in the second match, and Shawnee Heights won the night’s final match, 25-21, 25-15.
“It kind of sets a tone for where we’re at,” Manhattan coach Lisa Kinderknecht said of the quality of opponents her team faced. “I have to say, when we play well, we can play with anybody. We have a good group of girls. Consistency seems to be a bit of an issue with us sometimes.”
Against Silver Lake, Manhattan was in a good spot to win the first set, but couldn’t quite find the killer instinct they’ve been searching for going back to last season.
“Against Silver Lake, we had the momentum in our first set, but they got their last couple points with some unforced errors,” Kinderknecht said. “The good news is we can fix those, but we hate to end a set on an unforced error. But Silver Lake is a very good team — they’re definitely a contender. They’ve always played us close, and we’ve gone three sets a couple times with them.”
Facing Seaman in the second match, Manhattan could have won in two sets but gave up a close one to the Vikings in the second set, 26-24. They responded well in the third set, however.
“Against Seaman, I was really pleased with the way the girls played against them,” she said. “They hung in there — we’ve had trouble finishing and we did finish that one. We could have finished it in the second set, but we were able to come back and we got it in the third. So we definitely showed improvement, even just since the weekend.”
Against the T-Birds, Manhattan played well in the first set but ran out of gas in the second set.
“We played them tight in that first set,” Kinderknecht said. “They’re a great volleyball team, and we stuck with them. In our second set, we had three missed serves right in a row which put them ahead quite a bit, and you can’t get behind that far on a team like Shawnee Heights. We just struggled digging out of the hole.”
Kaci Cink led the Indians with 21 kills, while Jessie Kujawa and Lauren Goralczyk finished with 18 and 16 kills, respectively.
Aubrey Jung had 62 assists on the night, while libero Matty Mahan had 29 digs, with defenders Erika Hairgrove (20 digs) and Savannah Roberts (18 digs) also playing solid defense. Kujawa had 16 digs to go along with her kills.
“We had some pretty good defense tonight,” Kinderknecht said. “That was one thing that was consistently good all night.”
Manhattan got a league win against Seaman, as the Indians aren’t scheduled to see them again this season other than at weekend tournaments.
“Overall, I was pleased with our efforts — we’ll get there,” she said. “We have plenty to work on and some things we need to remedy in terms of unforced errors. But we need to make (our opponents) earn their points.”
Manhattan hosts Rossville and Clay Center in a triangular meet on Tuesday, starting at 5 p.m.