Riverton prepares for its return to the state tournament

Riverton (37-2) is sub-state champions for the third consecutive year

RIVERTON, Ks. – The Riverton Rams claimed the sub-state championship on Saturday and will compete for the state title for the third year in a row.

“I think you see a really focused and intense group of kids,” says Riverton head coach Rebecca Lipasek. “They’ve been saying that they’re ready and have been talking about this since the summer.”

Last year at state tournament, the Rams were eliminated in pool play. They’ve been working hard for months to have another shot at the title.

“We missed a spot in the state semifinals last year by two points in the third set,” Lipasek says. “We remember that. We had two plays in front of us to make. We use that to fuel us. This is an experienced team. They see challenges in front of them and they’re like, “Oh, I want to do that. I want to achieve that. I want this and I’m going to go get it.” We were so close last year to getting into that second day of state and they’re really on a mission.”

Phase one: complete. Riverton cruised through the sub-state tournament without dropping a set.

“Our serve-receive has been solid,” Lipasek says. “Defensively, we’ve really picked things up and we’re starting to make some plays that maybe we didn’t make earlier in the year. Our communication has gotten better, and they have gelled as a unit. Rachel Wilson came back in the middle of the season from an ACL injury and getting her back was important to us.”

The Rams have also played a stronger schedule this year to help prepare for the level of competition at the state tournament.

“The change in the schedule was really beneficial to us,” Lipasek says. “We picked up a quad here on a Saturday and we played Heritage-Christian and now we’re going to face them in pool play on Friday. We didn’t win that match, but it was important for us to see the speed of the game that they play at and the challenges it creates for us. We need a daily challenge. A lot of times when we play, we’re ahead of teams and I think we needed to be in some of those tougher situations, so that we learn to not panic.”

Phase two begins on Friday. Riverton will play three pool play matches to determine if they will advance to the semifinals.

“We need to believe that we are a state contender, and no one can tell us otherwise,” Lipasek says.