Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Re-Focused Silver Lake Spikers Dominate Home Tournament

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Re-Focused Silver Lake Spikers Dominate Home Tournament

Article excerpt

SILVER LAKE -- The distance from Seaman High School to Silver Lake High School is a mere 13.4 miles, a 15-minute trip.

But for the Eagle volleyball team, last Saturday's van ride home from the Seaman Invitational may have been one of the longest treks they've made. A fixture in the tournament semifinals ever since joining the field comprised mostly of Class 6A and 5A schools, Silver Lake failed to advance out of pool play.

The premature exit wasn't easy to take.

"I told them as we were getting ready to get on the van, 'Do you feel this? This taste doesn't taste so good,'" Silver Lake coach Sarah Johnson said. "We didn't like how that went because I don't know the last time we didn't go on (to the tourney semifinals). It was definitely motivating for us."

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A rejuvenated Silver Lake team left no doubt at its home tournament on Saturday. The Eagles rolled through pool play without allowing an opponent to hit 20 points once and then dominated Jefferson West 25-15, 25-15 in the semifinals before dispatching Mid-East League rival St. Marys 25-15, 25-18 in the championship match.

The tournament title was the third this year for the Eagles, who previously won the Jefferson West and Rossville Invitationals.

"We got refocused for the week and were ready to go," Johnson said. "There were some moments where we were like, 'C'mon girls, wake up and get back to doing what we know how to do.' But we started the day strong and finished strong and didn't let it get to us."

Of all the matches, the most important victory arguably was the championship match with St. Marys, and not just because it decided the tournament title. Even though the Bears aren't ranked in the latest KVA coaches' poll, they entered Saturday's play 17-4 overall and 4-0 in Mid-East League play and figure to be the Eagles' top challenger for the league crown and perhaps a Class 3A state-tournament berth.

Silver Lake dominated the first game of the title match, but after getting out to an early lead in the second saw St. Marys stiffen. The Bears rallied to take one-point leads at 8-7, 9-8 and 10-9 but never could string together a run to build a bigger cushion. …

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