Circle Lady Thunderbirds volleyball stuns Andale in 4A state volleyball, misses out semifinals on tiebreaker

Emmie Boese
Special to Butler County Times-Gazette
The Circle Lady Thunderbirds celebrate winning about in their first match in the Class 4A state tournament on Friday, Oct. 29. Circle won two matches in the pool play inside Hutch Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas.

They beat two of the top teams in the state in one day, just to fall slightly short of moving on to the state semifinals. However, Head Coach Shelly Nibarger said her team is going to hold their heads high after beating Andale for the first time since 2015 and McPherson in pool play of the Class 4A State Volleyball Championship. 

“They competed amazingly well,” Nibarger said. “Best matches against Mac g[McPherson] and Andale in our season and maybe in the last i dont know 10 years plus. We beat the team that’s probably going to be state champions tomorrow.”

After losing their first set against Andale in their third game of pool play, Circle came back to win their last two sets. They put up the highest scoring set of any team at the class 4A state tournament this season with a final score of 31-29 in their second set against Andale. In set three, Circle beat Andale 25-23. After the third set was over, Circle’s players and coaches erupted into cheers only to find out several moments later that their season was most likely over. 

Despite beating McPherson in game one and Andale in game three, Circle lost game two in two sets to Bishop Miegie. Circle’s loss to Bishop Miege put them slightly behind Andale in set won percentages. Andale won .714 sets to move on to the state semifinals in front of Circle. Therefore, Circle needed to win two more sets which would have come in the Bishop Miege game. 

The theme of Circle’s run to the state tournament was “united” which was displayed on posters and t-shirts of fans in the arena. As she pointed up to the fans' t-shirts, Nibarger said the theme for United stands for how every aspect of circle’s volleyball program came together throughout the season. 

“This team refuses to lose and they are probably some of the most “united teams” I’ve coached in a long long time,” Nibarger said. “They truly care for eachother, they trust each other on and off the court. They are just true teammates. They work hard everyday in practice, I couldn't be more proud of them.”

Circle ended their season with an overall 35-7 record. 

Circle 2, McPherson 1

McPherson -  25;19;24 

Circle - 14;25;26 

Bishop Miege 2, Circle 0

Circle - 12;9

BM - 25;25 

Game 3: Circle 2 Andale 1

Circle - 22;31;25

Andale - 25;29;23