Andover volleyball completes transformation with 5A berth
The scene on the Kapaun Mount Carmel volleyball court on Saturday afternoon was what Andover senior Regan Peare had been waiting for her entire career.
A one-sport athlete who will play at Wichita State, Peare has not experienced a state tournament. As a freshman Andover won three matches. The Trojans won five in 2011 and, in 2012, a breakout season, they lost in the sub-state title match to Bishop Carroll.
So it was surreal for Peare, after Andover beat Valley Center 25-17, 17-25, 25-17 in a Class 5A sub-state final, to have friends and family congratulating her, to smile for one picture after another with her teammates and the sub-state trophy and Andover’s Believe sign.
“My freshman and sophomore year, it was terrible,” said Peare, a setter/hitter, who was a 2012 All-Metro selection. “… We just had no chemistry. And this year, every single one on our team, what’s so unique about our team, is we’re such good friends, on the court and off the court. If we didn’t play on this team, we’d hang out together.
“I’m happy I got to experience this with this team. It means more.”
Andover is one of five Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League teams in the state volleyball tournaments, including Maize in Class 6A, and Andover Central, Rose Hill and McPherson in Class 4A-I.
Andover, which also beat Heights 25-11, 25-16 in the semifinals, finished the match with a kill by middle hitter Jaylyn Agnew, who had 17 kills. Peare finished with seven kills, while Sydney Staehr had 10.
The Trojans’ chemistry is obvious from their smiles and their love for laughter. They showcased, with coach Sue Coffman, a line dance they had created. And when Agnew was struggling during practice earlier in the week, her teammates carried her out of the gym on their shoulders.
Coffman had considered retiring during those awful 2010 and 2011 seasons, but she’s thrilled she didn’t.
“They’re just special,” she said. “… They have good balance.”
But Andover needed skill and mental strength to beat Valley Center (33-6), which beat Salina South 25-22, 25-7 to advance to the sub-state final.
“I told them that every time they play them, they go flat,” Coffman said of Valley Center. “They beat us by three, five points, whatever.”
What helped Andover was it beat Valley Center twice at the Eisenhower tournament on Oct. 19, winning the final three times the Trojans played Valley this season.
“We know what we’re going to get from Valley Center,” Agnew said. “Hard hits, smart plays, dumps. They bring everything, and we just have to do it right back. We worked really hard in practice. We watched film, we watched for their tendencies, and we started running different plays, mixing it up a little bit.”
Since Andover knew what to expect from Valley Center, knew it could beat the Hornets, there was a high level of confidence.”
“We played good,” Peare said. “I feel like we’re still trying to overcome our mental blocks, but we made plays we never make. We were on our toes. This season they’ve all come so far, and it’s been fun to watch them come together.”