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Washburn Rural volleyball ends 10-year state title drought

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The Washburn Rural volleyball team didn’t drop a single set throughout postseason play this season. (Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Any hopes the Washburn Rural (Kan.) volleyball team had of going undefeated in 2022 were quickly dashed after the Blues lost their second match of the season back on Aug. 30.

From that point on, however, they didn’t lose again.

Washburn Rural ended the season on a 44-match winning streak, winning the Class 6A state championship this past weekend for the eighth state title in program history and the first since 2012.

After losing in the state semifinals last year, the Blues didn’t drop a single set throughout postseason play this season. In fact, they lost just four sets all year.

It was a fitting end to a stellar high school career for Kentucky commit and reigning Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year Brooklyn DeLeye. The No. 6 overall recruit in the Class of 2023 was one of five seniors to end their time at Washburn Rural with that elusive state title, one year after losing in the state semifinals.

Thanks to the impressive 40-plus match winning streak, capped by a championship trophy, Washburn Rural moves up two spots in the Just Women’s Sports team volleyball rankings, cracking the top five at No. 4.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to see last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 37-0

The Dons still haven’t dropped a set this season. That record will be put to the test in the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section Open Division championship Friday against Torrey Pines.

2. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 55-2

The Warriors made a tradeoff — they tested themselves against the best teams in the country with a national schedule, giving up the chance to play for a state title by forgoing district matches due to travel requirements.

3. Mira Costa (Calif.), 36-3

Drew Wright notched 25 kills, and Erin Inskeep recorded 19 digs as the Mustangs beat Mater Dei in a five-set thriller this past weekend and booked a spot in the CIF Southern Section Division I Championships final against Sierra Canyon.

4. Washburn Rural (Kan.), 45-1

The Blues will lose DeLeye but return several key contributors next year.

5. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 26-0

The Warriors are just two wins away from their first state title since 2016 and have not dropped a set since Sept. 3.

6. Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), 33-1

The Royals have already knocked off one top-25 team on their way to the Class 4A state final, and they will have to beat another to win the state crown. Hamilton Southeastern, which ended No. 17 McCutcheon’s season in the regional final, faces No. 16 Yorktown for the title Saturday.

7. Fayetteville (Ark.), 36-2

It was only appropriate that the seniors led the way as the Bulldogs won their third consecutive state title. Stanford beach volleyball commit Brooke Rockwell smacked 17 kills, and Madeline Lafata added 13 in a straight-set championship victory. Kennedy Phelan was everywhere with 37 assists, 18 digs and seven kills, while Ashley Ruff had a team-high 22 digs. Those four were part of Fayetteville’s 14-player senior class.

8. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 37-1

The Lions ended the regular season on a 25-match winning streak and now turn their attention to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools playoffs.

9. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 43-1

The Mustangs opened the playoffs Wednesday with a straight-set victory in the district semifinals, booking a spot in Friday’s district championship.

10. Highland Park (Texas), 41-2

The Scots dominated their postseason opener, not allowing their opponent to win more than 10 points in a set.

11. Tompkins (Texas), 37-3

The Falcons are riding a 17-match winning streak and eyeing the University Interscholastic League Class 6A state crown.

12. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 40-3

The Saints defeated St. James Academy for the third time this season to claim the 5A state championship. Two of their losses came against Washburn Rural.

13. Oconomowoc (Wis.), 37-1

Cordelia Kearns became the Raccoons’ all-time kills leader in a postseason victory this past weekend. Kearns has 394 kills this season alone, and now the senior and her teammates are just three wins away from a state title.

14. Cypress Ranch (Texas), 43-2

The Mustangs opened the playoffs the same way they ended the regular season, with a sweep. But a tough test awaits Thursday against The Woodlands, who are 39-9 with a win over Cornerstone Christian.

15. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 32-4

The Trailblazers defeated reigning state champion Marymount for the second time this season to finish unbeaten in pool play and set up Saturday’s showdown with No. 3 Mira Costa.

16. Yorktown (Ind.), 34-2

Charlotte Vinson had 20 kills, Addi Applegate contributed 27 digs and Kynnadi Bell added 25 assists as the Tigers knocked off Floyd Central in the state semifinals to set up a championship showdown with No. 6 Hamilton Southeastern.

17. McCutcheon (Ind.), 33-2

The Mavericks’ season ended last week in a loss to Hamilton Southeastern in the regional finals.

18. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 35-3

The Mighty Macs avenged one of their three losses with a taut, three-set victory over Marist in Wednesday’s sectional final.

19. ‘Iolani (Hawaii), 25-5

The Raiders ended the season on a 12-match winning streak, earning the Division I state title as Brooke Naniseni racked up 16 kills in the state championship match. Tessa Onaga contributed 32 digs, and Maya Imoto-Eakin dished out 39 assists.

20. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 45-2

The Wolverines play for the Class 2A state championship Thursday, with Madelyn Norton leading the way with 894 assists. Twins Payton and Jadyn Petersen lead the team with 456 kills and 295 digs, respectively.

21. Buford (Ga.), 37-5

If the Wolves beat Lambert in the 7A state championship Saturday, it will be their third state title in three years.

22. Marymount (Calif.), 30-8

The Sailors struggled in the CIF Southern Section Division I Championships, going 1-2 in pool play, but their season isn’t over yet. They could receive an invite to the Southern California Regional Open Division playoff bracket.

23. St. Francis (Calif.), 29-0

The Lancers’ reward for winning their CIF Central Coast Section semifinal match Wednesday is a fifth matchup against Archbishop Mitty.

24. Assumption (Ky.), 33-7

The Rockets are just three wins from another state championship. First, they must navigate past a Mercy team they have already beaten twice this season.

25. Flint Hill (Va.), 31-0

The Huskies haven’t faced the same caliber of competition as Cathedral Catholic, but just like the top-ranked Dons, the new top-25 entrant has yet to drop a set this season.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.