HUTCHINSON – The West Franklin volleyball team did not take any day for granted this season.


Last week, West Franklin had positive COVID-19 cases in the school, and the Falcons volleyball team did not know if they’d be able to travel to the Hutchinson Sports Arena for the Class 3A state volleyball championships.


After contact tracing, West Franklin was given the green light to play, and the Falcons made the most of it by finishing third on Saturday.


"Every day was in doubt, and it’s such a relief and we’ve very grateful to end our season here," West Franklin coach Angie Corwine said.


The Falcons rebounded from a 23-25, 25-23, 25-21 loss to Smoky Valley in a thrilling semifinal with a 25-23, 25-22 win over Goodland in the third-place match.


Corwine said it wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be to motivate her team to play in the third-place match.


"I know how much the girls wanted that [semifinal] match," Corwine said. "They took a few minutes afterward, then they decided they wanted to end with a win. We knew we needed to go get third, and that was all them."


The semifinal match against Smoky Valley went the distance. Neither team gave an inch, and Smoky Valley was fortunate to end up on top.


"Our defense and passing kept us in the game. I’m so proud how we dug deep," Corwine said. "Even though they were more powerful than we were, we couldn’t have played any better against them."


West Franklin defeated Goodland (25-18, 25-19), and fell to Sabetha (25-22, 25-18) and Smoky Valley (25-20, 25-20) in pool play.


West Franklin, who finishes the year with a 34-6 record, graduates three seniors: Ainsley Corwine, Samantha Randall and Alexandra Coopman.


"Alex Coopman played through sickness — not COVID, we had her tested — and I managed her playing time for that reason," Corwine said. "I’ve never had a passer and defender like Sammy Randall. And Ainsley runs our offense very well.


"These seniors are very dedicated, they play club volleyball all the time, they’re in the weight room all the time, and they’re just fantastic leaders and girls."