Three members of Lawrence High's undefeated, nationally-ranked state championship volleyball team are headed to major colleges.
On Wednesday, Gwen Mullens signed a national letter of intent with Missouri, while Erin McElwain signed with Baylor. Heather Flachsbarth made an oral commitment to Arizona and will sign on Monday.
"It's not very often that we have that many going to Division I schools," Lion coach Joan Wells said. "I think these three kids this year were recruited more heavily than any group before."
The interest in Lawrence's program was so great that manager Karen Spencer was offered a full-ride scholarship by Tennessee.
"THE WAY it started at first was one of the coaches came up here to recruit Erin," Spencer said. "She asked if I wanted to be a volleyball coach. Erin and Heather went there to visit, and the coach said they needed a new manager. They looked at each other and said, `Karen.' It started out as a joke.
"They wanted to offer me a full ride to be a manager. They've talked to me about it and they came up in January to visit and we talked a little then. I haven't decided yet, but I'm kinda excited about it. They obviously have a lot of trust in Mrs. Wells' program."
Last fall, the Lions extended their winning streak to 82 matches and won their second consecutive state title. The team also rose to a No. 9 ranking in USA Today's national poll.
MULLENS, McELWAIN and Flachsbarth were named to the state all-tournament team and to the Class 6A all-state team by the Kansas Volleyball Assn.
Additionally, Flachsbarth and Mullens were first-team all-Sunflower League picks and McElwain was a second-team selection.
Not since the 1984 season have three LHS players signed with Div. I schools. After the '84 season, Kelly Collister signed with Michigan State, Mary Kay Waller with Notre Dame and Jenny Huntsinger with East Tennessee State.
Mullens was recruited by Drake, Notre Dame, Colorado, Kansas and Wichita State. She made one visit to Missouri.
"I really liked the coaches," Mullens said. "Last year a lot of freshmen and sophomores played, so next year we should be pretty good. Plus I really like the distance from home. It's not too far, but it's not too close."
McELWAIN, ALSO a starter on the Lions basketball team, visited Tennessee, Clemson and Baylor.
Because of limited scholarships at Baylor, McElwain has agreed to a partial scholarship for the 1991-92 school year and a full scholarship for the following four years.
"That kind of had an impact, but I still wanted to go there," McElwain said of the limited grant. "It's still a pretty good deal."
Flachsbarth was offered scholarships by Tennessee, Florida State, Wisconsin, Arizona, Kansas and Missouri.
"Actually, it was a really hard decision," she said. "I like all the coaches and all of the programs were good. It was really hard to decide. I just thought this was the place for me."