BUHLER — The Andale High School volleyball team is no stranger to big-time matches this season.
On Monday, Andale — ranked No. 1 in 4A — traveled to Wichita to take part in a triangular featuring Bishop Carroll — fifth in 5A — and No. 2 Cheney (3A).
Andale defeated Cheney but lost to Carroll in straight sets. Facing a ranked 5A school will give Andale confidence, according to head coach Kaylie Bergkamp.
"It’s a little bit of an eye opener playing a 5A team, because then we come into this gym and we have confidence because we did hang with a 5A team," Bergkamp said.
Andale returned to 4A competition Tuesday at Jim Baker Fieldhouse in Buhler. Although the classification went down a level, the competition remained the same.
In a triangular with No. 2 Circle and No. 9 Buhler, Andale went 2-0 without dropping a set. Bergkamp was impressed with her team’s energy playing in their second triangular in as many days.
"I thought our energy was way better tonight than it was last night," Bergkamp said. "I was very impressed tonight with our composure, even when we were rattled for a couple points we did a good job of answering back."
In a battle of the top-two teams in 4A, Andale defeated Circle 25-13, 25-22.
The first set was tied at 10, but a 10-1 run from Andale all but put the set away.
Andale and Circle found themselves tied at 16 in Set 2, but a 6-2 run from Andale forced a Circle timeout.
The T-Birds weren’t able to muster a comeback, but they did play better in the second set compared to the first.
"They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason," Circle head coach Shelly Nibarger said. "Andale is extremely athletic, and they’re running a 6-2 this year, which means they have three offensive weapons at the net at all times. You’d be hard pressed to find a weakness with that team."
Against Buhler, Andale jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first set, then pushed their lead to 20-9 before winning the set 25-17.
Buhler held a 7-5 lead in the second set, but Andale came charging back and forced a Buhler timeout by taking a 12-9 lead.
Andale never surrendered their lead and won the second set 25-16.
"Buhler and Circle both have really solid teams, but our serving is what kept us in system all night long," Bergkamp said.
Circle began the triangular with a 25-19, 25-12 win over Buhler.
In Set 1, the T-Birds called timeout down 9-6. Circle came out of the timeout by going on a 7-0 run and never let up the rest of the set.
Circle dominated the second set and forced Buhler to use both of its timeouts within the first 14 points.
Circle led 12-2 at one point, and although Buhler would get to within seven, the T-Birds cruised to a victory.
"I thought (Addie) Devine and (Laci) Beougher hit strong and smart from the outside tonight," Nibarger said. "We were able to make our runs when Buhler’s (Hadley) Waldren was in the back row. In the second set, she was in the back row forever, and I think they aren’t as strong of a team when she’s a back-row player."
Buhler head coach Deedra Emel denied comment after the triangular.
Andale, now 14-2, continues its difficult schedule on Saturday when they travel to Newton for an invitational. Eight teams will be in attendance, including McPherson and Nickerson.
"We talk a lot about how we treat everyone the same. When we walk in, we treat everybody as No. 1," Bergkamp said. "I think we have to do that because teams are out to beat us."
Circle, now 8-3 on the year, travels to Wamego on Saturday for an invitational.
"No excuses, but we were short handed tonight with some illness," Nibarger said. "We had people playing different positions, and I was really proud of the way we bonded and adapted to some adversity tonight."
Buhler is now 9-4 on the season and will also be in Newton on Saturday.