Remington Broncos volleyball finishes runner-up in 2A sub-state final

Lionel Tipton
The Remington Broncos pose with their sub-state runner-up trophy on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Flinthills High School in Rosalia, Kansas.

ROSALIA, Kansas – A Butler County school advanced to the Class 2A volleyball sub-state final Saturday, but it wasn’t the team most expected.

Fifth-seeded Remington shocked top-seeded tournament host Flinthills in straight sets to advance to the final against No. 2 seed Garden Plain.

But once they got there, the Broncos couldn’t duplicate that against the powerful Owls, who swept Remington and snagged a spot in the 2A state tournament next Friday and Saturday in Dodge City.

Many might have been surprised to see Remington in the sub-state final, but veteran Garden Plain coach Gina Clark wasn’t one of them.

“I’m going to be honest,” she said. “I thought we’d see Remington. We’ve watched film on both (Flinthills and Remington). Both are absolutely fantastic teams, but we thought with the size that Remington had and the tough schedule they’ve played – I mean, they’ve played the Sedgwicks and the Sterlings and that group. We thought with the schedule that they’ve played that they would be a tough team to beat.

“So, we planned on them.”

The Broncos’ path to the sub-state final was impressive. They first took down fourth-seeded West Elk in straight sets, winning the first set 25-18 but hanging on for the second-set victory, 25-22. This set up the showdown with Flinthills, which carried a 28-5 record into the match.

Remington paid no attention to that, as the Broncos, with sophomore Eva Hilgenfeld serving, scored nine straight points to jump to a 10-1 lead.  Junior Kaleigh O’Brien later served eight straight points, boosting the Remington lead to 22-6. The Mustangs simply had few answers for Remington’s height and kill ability, dropping the first set, 25-9.

In the second set, Flinthills managed to find some of the play that had eliminated Wichita Independent, which won a play-in game over Cedar Vale-Dexter for the right to face the Mustangs. Flinthills took an early lead that reached 11-7 before Remington chipped away and tied the set at 12-12. The teams battled back and forth down the stretch, with Remington getting key kills from Hilgenfeld, as well as a key block by Hilgenfeld’s sister Lily, a senior. 

The Mustangs stayed right on the Broncos’ heels, but Remington was able to eke out a 25-23 victory and take the match.

Garden Plain entered sub-state play with nine losses, but four of those came to Cheney in the perennially tough Central Plains League, which also was represented by Belle Plaine in the sub-state. Other losses included Augusta, McPherson, Andale and Trinity Academy.

To say the Owls are battle-tested might be a bit of an understatement. 

“The reason why we’re not a top seed (in the sub-state) is that we play an incredibly tough schedule,” Clark said. “Four of our losses that we brought with us were from Cheney. We’ve got a loss to McPherson, got a loss to Andale. Those people are heading on to state tournaments, too.

“We play that (schedule) on purpose, so when we get to this point in the season, we’re ready to play.”

And lest there be any belief that volleyball coaches aren’t a tight-knit fraternity: “I texted (Circle volleyball coach) Shelly (Nibarger) this morning and wished her good luck,” said Clark, who has coached at Garden Plain since 2008. “We’re a big culture of coaches that work together.”

It’s all part of what goes into a successful program, she said.

“We establish a culture of high expectations,” Clark said. “We expect our kids even in the middle-school level to be training and to get ready. Our JV support teams, our C-team support teams and all those kids – I’ve got 41 kids out for volleyball.”

Remington coach Lisa Hochstetler is just in her fifth season, but knocking out the top seed was exciting, she said.

“I’m very proud of our girls,” Hochstetler said. “They’ve fought through a lot this year. Our record may not have proved that we’re better than a (No.) 5 seed, but (Saturday) we did.”

The Broncos will lose six seniors from this year, but will return a nucleus with varsity experience.

“We lose some pretty important pieces, but we have some that are still there, so we’ll deal with that next year,” Hochstetler said. “We have a big number of girls; we have a big sophomore class, and they’re going to be able to contribute next year.”

Class 2A Volleyball Sub-State

At Flinthills High, Rosalia

Play-in game

#9 Wichita Independent def. #8 Cedar Vale-Dexter, 25-15, 17-25, 25-22.

First round

#1 Flinthills def. Wichita Independent, 25-9, 25-12

#5 Remington def. #4 West Elk, 25-18, 25-23

#2 Garden Plain def. #7 Conway Springs, 25-18, 25-12

#3 Belle Plaine def. #6 Bluestem, 25-15, 25-12

Semifinals

Remington def. Flinthills, 25-9, 25-23

Garden Plain def. Belle Plaine, , 25-8, 25-16

Final

Garden Plain def. Remington, 25-16, 25-10