Falcon spikers advance to state Final 4

Greg Mast

The West Franklin volleyball team is making its first Final 4 state tournament appearance in school history.

The Falcons dispatched Riverton Tuesday in the 3A state quarterfinals in four sets. West Franklin advanced to Hutchinson with a 25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 25-18 victory in Riverton.

The Falcons (32-3) join Goodland (34-5), Sabetha (36-1) and winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal match between Smoky Valley (30-2) and Cheney (28-3) in the 3A Final 4.

The 3A State Tournament is Saturday in Hutchinson. Pool play matches are at 10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

The semifinals — which pits the top team in pool play against fourth place and No. 2 versus No. 3 — at 3 p.m. The championship and third-place matches begin 25 minutes following the semifinal matches.

West Franklin, making its first state tourney appearance since 2007, came up with key plays to defeat Riverton in the quarterfinals.

West Franklin trailed 15-13 in the first set when the Falcons went on a 7-0 run, fueled by five straight aces from senior Ainsley Corwine.

West Franklin’s momentum extended into the second set as the Falcons led 7-1. The tide turned as the Rams went on a 19-7 run.

Falcons coach Angie Corwine said West Franklin stopped being aggressive after gaining the early lead.

“The girls realized they let set number two slip away,” Corwine said. “We talked about how we wanted to play our tempo and not settle for them to make a mistake. We had to be on the attack offensively. In the third set our serving was key.”

Nellie LaFountain served two straight aces followed by Jenna Walters’ two aces. The Falcons’ lead ballooned to 18-10. West Franklin closed the set for a 2-1 lead.

The two teams battled to a 15-15 tie in the fourth set when the Falcons took over. Allison Swank scored six of the final seven points. She had two blocks and two kills to spark West Franklin to a 23-15 lead and then ended the match with a kill.

“In their second time out, I told her that nobody in the front row could stop her,” Corwine said. “They had us defended in the corners, which is usually where she likes to hit it. We discussed how their defense was set up, and she took advantage. She was huge in that final set.”