Topeka — Lawrence High's volleyball team is two matches away from state championship No. 15.
The Lions, unbeaten and the top seed at the Class 6A state tournament at the Kansas Expocentre, went 3-0 in their pool on Friday to advance to the state semifinals.
Lawrence opened with a 15-10, 15-12 victory over Blue Valley Northwest before defeating Leavenworth, 15-11, 15-4 and Shawnee Mission South, 15-11, 15-6. LHS and SM South have met in the state championship the past three years.
"It seems to me most teams are playing their best against us and we expected that," said LHS head coach Joan Wells, whose team has won 14 state titles since 1975.
Today, the Lions (42-0) will play seventh-seeded Wichita North (23-7) at noon in a semifinal match. Emporia (35-4) and Shawnee Mission South (33-7) meet in the other noon semifinal. The final match is set for 4:15 p.m.
Eighth-seeded BV Northwest gave the Lions fits in the 8:30 match. BV Northwest was the only team to score 10 points in both its games against Lawrence. The Lions defeated the Huskies four times this season.
"It was a tough situation for our kids," Wells said. "We were pretty tight against Blue Valley Northwest. They played a great match against us."
In the first game of the LHS-Leavenworth match, the Lions trailed 4-2 before a Katy Kish kill and Anne Murray stuff keyed a 6-0 run to give Lawrence an 8-4 lead. The Pioneers rallied to tie at 8-8, but never led again. Jaunelle Hamilton's stuff and a Kish kill secured the game.
In the second game, the Lions jumped to a 4-0 advantage and never trailed. The Pioneers pulled within 4-3 and the Lions closed with a 11-1 spree.
"We were fired up to play," LHS senior Katy Kampschroeder said. "We didn't play to our potential. Our opponents played really well. We're going to have much better against these teams (today) because I know they haven't played to their potential either."
In their third pool match against SM South, the Lions again jumped to a 4-0 lead. The Raiders pushed Lawrence late, pulling within 13-11. A kill by Hamilton and a SM South hit out of bounds sealed the game.
SM South led the second game, 3-2, before Lawrence unloaded an 8-0 run to take control. A kill by Kish and long hit by SM South gave Lawrence its 84th consecutive game victory of the season.
Senior setter Kelly Miller saw action for Lawrence. She didn't play at sub-state last weekend because of a knee injury.
"I didn't know until this morning if I'd play or not," Miller said.
Two match victories today will give the Lions a school record 44 wins for a season.