Garden City’s Vargas named WAC Volleyball Player of the Year

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Courtesy of the Western Athletic Conference

Often times, when it comes to all-league, all-area, all-state selections, the setter on a volleyball team is the least noticed player on the court.

But Garden City senior Remi Vargas overcame that historical oversight with a stellar senior season as she helped her Lady Buffaloes to a 33-5 season record, a ninth-straight Western Athletic Conference championship and a fifth straight trip to the Class 6A state tournament.

For her efforts, Vargas, all 5-foot-4-inches of her, was chosen as the WAC Player of the Year for the 2019 season by the coaches of the five-school league.

“I’m really shocked but really excited at the same time,” Vargas said when learning of the honor. “I was having a bad day and this (news) really made my day.”

Joining Vargas on the all-WAC first team is her senior teammate, Reagan Karlin, a 6-1 outside hitter who was the 2018 WAC Player of the Year; Tasiah Nunnery of Hays, a 5-8 outside hitter who was the 2017 WAC Player of the Year; Great Bend’s Sydney Unruh (Jr.) and Jenna Mauler (Sr.), and rounded out by Liberal junior Aubrey Warden.

A repeat first-team All-WAC performer, Vargas had an impressive final campaign for the Lady Buffs, who achieved one of their highest rankings in Class 6A by the Kansas Volleyball Association (No. 2) and their second No. 1 seed in program history for the state tournament.

“Usually setters don’t get that kind of recognition so this is really special for me,” Vargas said. “I have had great hitters, both outside and middle, that have made me look good.”

In her final campaign, Vargas had 856 assists in the 38 matches to go along with 262 digs on the defensive side of the net. Her all-around skills also shone with her serve percentage of 98.7 percent, highest on the team.

“I’m really happy for her to get this recognition,” GCHS head coach Trista Bailey said. “A lot of time the setters get overlooked by the hitters. She’s had one of the best careers in our program’s history and it reflects the amount of time she’s worked on her craft.”

Vargas finished her three-year varsity career with the Lady Buffs with 2,640 assists and 729 digs. 

“It’s tough to get to every ball, but I try to get to every one I can in order to help set up my hitters to get their shots quickly,” Vargas said.

Prior to the season, with being one of five seniors who have been together since third grade, Vargas said she anticipated and expected a big season out of her and her teammates.

“We’ve had a couple of pretty good years, but we wanted to do something special this year,” Vargas said. “I think we played our hearts out all season and that’s why we had such a good year.”

The Lady Buffs fashioned their 33-5 record by winning tournaments in McPherson, Maize, and extending their WAC streak to nine seasons. They also competed in the tough Lawrence Invitational Round-Robin, going 3-2 against a field of five teams, four of those ranked in Class 6A.

Vargas has decided she wants to continue playing volleyball at the collegiate level, but is undecided on where that journey will take her. Also, she hasn’t made a determination in what area of academic study she will pursue.

“I’m just trying to keep all my options open as to where I’ll play and what I will study,” Vargas said. “I’m excited about the possibility of playing at the college level and I know I’ll have to improve many of my skills.”

The second team selections include Audrey Phelps of Dodge City (Sr.), Machia Mullens of Liberal (Sr.), Alyssa Herter of Great Bend (Sr.), Kelbi Richter of Garden City (Sr.), Sarah Mein of Liberal (Sr.) and Sara Ramirez of Dodge City (Sr.).

Coach of the Year honors went to Shelly Duval of Great Bend. The Lady Panthers went 28-7 during the season and were runners-up to Garden City in the WAC Championship and were runners-up in the Class 5A sub-state championship. 

All-Western Athletic Conference Volleyball

First Team

Tasiah Nunnery Hays Sr.

Remi Vargas Garden City Sr.

Reagan Karlin Garden City Sr.

Sydney Unruh Great Bend Jr.

Jenna Mauler Great Bend Sr.

Aubrey Warden Liberal Jr.

Player of the Year: Remi Vargas, Garden City, Sr.

Coach of the Year: Shelly Duvall, Great Bend (28-7, 5A Sub-State Runner-Up; WAC Runner-Up).

Second Team

Audrey Phelps Dodge City Sr.

Machia Mullens Liberal Sr.

Alyssa Herter Great Bend Sr.

Kelbi Richter Garden City Sr.

Sarah Mein Liberal Sr.

Sara Ramirez Dodge City Sr.