“Every one of them got their job done. They deserve it. The seniors have worked four years for this. They finally put it together. The pieces of the puzzle finally came together on the right day,” said El Dorado head coach Chelsea Helena after her Wildcats took down Circle in the sub-state championship to earn a trip to the 4A-I state tournament in Salina on Oct. 26-27.
The Wildcats had a difficult road to make it to state as they were the lowest seed with a record of 18-19.
Being faced with a first-round matchup against No. 1 seeded Abilene did not intimidate the Wildcats going into the tournament.
“Going into this week, it wasn’t a matter of what we had done in the past, what mattered was how we were practicing every day this week and we only had five days to do so,” said Helena.
“They stayed very disciplined in practice.”
The first set with Abilene was close at the beginning, as El Dorado trailed 9-10 before the Cowgirls went on a 15-2 run to win 25-11. The loss did not phase the Wildcats as they came back to win the second set 25-19. In the third set, El Dorado led 15-12 and used a 7-0 run to go up 22-12 and essentially put the game away as they went on to earn the first-round upset by a score of 25-17.
“I think that first win against Abilene really set the tone. We’ve been struggling with the second half of the season and playing up to our potential.” said Helena.
Circle defeated Wamego in three sets on the other side of the bracket to advance to the championship game against El Dorado. Wamego dominated the first set 12-25, before Circle fought back to win 25-21. The Thunderbirds took control in the final set to win 25-13.
In the championship game, El Dorado rode the momentum of a first-round upset and continued to play well as they rolled to a straight-set victory over Circle, 25-20, 25-20.
The eight teams that qualified for state are placed into two pools. Pool play will take place on Friday, Oct. 26 at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina. The Wildcats will take are the No. 7 seed and will take on Independence at 9:30 AM, Ulysses at 10:30 AM, and Wellington at 12:30 PM.
“Now that we are able to feel what this is like, we need to set that as a standard,” said Helena.
“State is a whole other world up there. They need to realize that we still want to raise the bar again. If we have that mentality, we’ll be ready to do work at state.”