Skyline VB heads to Class 1A-I semifinals

Charles Chaney
The Pratty Skyline Lady Thunderbirds celebrate winning their quarterfinal match against Flinhills on Wednseday night in Rosalia, Kansas.

Pratt Skyline needed to overcome the entire town of Rosalia and the Flinthills volleyball team on Wednesday night.

They did it 3-1 (18-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-8) to advance to the Class 1A-I state semifinals in Dodge City on Saturday.

“This place was a lot different than what we were used to this season,” head coach Lori Anschutz said. “I’m proud of how we were mentally tough.”

After Flinthills busted out the spotlight for the starting lineups like they were the 90s Chicago Bulls and the gym was near capacity, which helped the Lady Mustangs came out firing. They took the opening set 25-18 and put Skyline on their heels.

After a lost point, someone in the court huddle said the word focus, fueling their mental toughness as they headed into the second set.

“I think the nerves calmed down,” sophomore Presli Harts said. “We know we have to come out and play our game.”

After the crowd died down, the Lady Thunder birds got down to playing volleyball. Skyline (27-7) responded by taking the second set. Their returns put Flinthills diving after balls and pulling them out of position. Skyline had a run of 6-1 and 5-2 that put them out in front of Flinthills early and they took the set 25-17.

Harts took over in the third set, much like she did in the first. She had four kills and a couple of blocks that stymied any run Flinthills (20-13) tried to put together. She was aggressive at the net and knew how to find the gaps on the floor with her spikes.

“We knew we could play better than we did in the first set,” Harts said. “I wasn’t happy with my performance in the first set.”

Harts helped Skyline jump out to an 16-9 lead and 22-12. They clinched the set 25-16 after Harts sent a return that had Flinthills scrambling to gather up for a return. Their unforced error put them in the match’s driver’s seat.

Skyline jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the final set and never looked back. Harts was once again the driving force to the net game for the Lady Thunderbirds. They would push their lead out to 21-6 on the back of their libero, Cassidy Spease.

“We are mentally strong,” senior Kenleigh Nation said. “I’m just proud of how we played tonight.”

These five seniors will help the T-Birds live a dream of playing for a state championship this weekend.

“These seniors were freshman when I started here,” coach Anschutz said. “This is a little extra special to me.”

After only winning 21 matches the previous two seasons, the Lady Thunderbirds will get an will head into state with 27 this season.

In a season where there wasn’t a given, we would finish the season due to COVID-19, making it to Dodge was always the end goal and to move the program to this point, means a lot to these seniors.

“We weren’t even sure we would get through the end of the season,” Nation said. “We haven’t made it this far, so it means a lot for my senior year.”

Skyline - 3 - 18;25;25;25

Flinthills -1 - 25;17;16;8