El Dorado competed at the 4A-I state tournament at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina on Friday morning. The Wildcats competed in the state tournament for just the second time in school history and the first time since 1985. The young Wildcat squad played inconsistently and failed to make it out of pool play in their first trip to state in 32 years.
The Wildcats opened the day against the No. 2 seed Independence Bulldogs. After winning the first set 25-23 before losing the next two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-15.
After falling to Independence, the Wildcats had about ten minutes before they had to play again. In El Dorado’s second match, they faced Ulysses, the eventual champion of the pool. The Wildcats lost a close first set 25-22 before falling 25-20 in the second set as Ulysses completed the straight-set victory.
In the Wildcats final match, they faced an opponent they had already seen, and beat, in the regular season. The Wildcats had many chance to win the first set but did not take advantage of the lead and eventually fell in a 34-32 thriller that seemed to go on forever. The Wildcats seemed discouraged and were not able to overcome the first set loss as Wellington went on to win the second set 25-16.
Despite the 0-3 record at state, El Dorado head coach Chelsea Helena was proud of the Wildcats’ season and the accomplishment of qualifying for the state tournament.
“As a whole, I think the season was an accomplishment. They need to walk out of here with their heads high,” Said Helena.
“Obviously being here has always been the school’s goal. Things didn’t go our way today. I think we were more inconsistent than usual, but it gave them a taste of what’s possible and from now on all we have to do is keep building. They had ups and downs all season, but they learned how to finish.”
The Wildcats have a great deal of young talent that will be returning next season.
“They’re still learning. They’re a very young team. We’re going to be losing some solid seniors, but we’ve got got solid girls staying as well. There’s no reason why we can’t do this again next year,” said Helena.