Archive for Thursday, September 28, 2000

Lions, FSHS to meet today at Blue Valley

City squads to battle at 6 p.m.

September 28, 2000


Free State High's volleyball team won for the 100th time in school history Saturday at the Topeka Seaman volleyball tournament.

The Firebirds' 101st victory has been harder to come by.

"That was kind of fun," FSHS coach Nancy Hopkins said of the milestone. "They weren't even aware it was the 100th win. We had talked about it earlier in the season that we were at 88 and needed 12 wins to reach that first milestone. For some people, that's the mark of their success, be it the 100th, 200th or 900th win like Lawrence High.

"Our first milestone was 100, that was Saturday and it was the last time they won," Hopkins quipped.

After winning the first three matches of pool play including a 15-8, 4-15, 15-12 victory over Shawnee Mission North for No. 100 the Firebirds dropped their next three.

Free State (12-8) will have a chance to add to its win total in today's quadrangular with Lawrence High and SM North at Blue Valley. The LHS-Free State match, slated to begin at 6 p.m., will be the lone regular-season meeting between the two teams.

"Most of our matches are on the road any way, so it's really not much of an issue," LHS coach Jo Huntsinger said. "Only 25 percent of our matches are at home. We play on the road all the time."

LHS (8-6) started its season 3-3 before shaking things up. A revamped lineup which features nine players shuffling in and out during matches sparked the Lions to a 4-1 record and a third-place finish at the Wichita Northwest tournament on Sept. 16.

Huntsinger cited senior three-year starters Katie Bell and Ashley Bechard for their leadership so far.

"We're starting to turn it on," Huntsinger said. "We're starting to improve each match and fine-tuning. It began when we started with a different lineup and then we really started to click.

"We're not where we want to be yet, but that's what the rest of this month is for gradual improvement."

The Firebirds also have struggled at times. Free State has had to replace all but one starter (senior Joyia Chadwick) from last year's 34-11 squad that finished second in the Class 6A state tournament.

"Kind of inconsistent," Hopkins said of her team's play. "Part of that is because this group hasn't been playing together for a long period of time like that group last year, obviously. They've been more consistent for longer spurts of time now than they were earlier."

While both the Lions and Firebirds are looking forward to tonight's intracity showdown Free State leads the all-time head-to-head series, 3-1 both also are looking at the big picture.

"Our girls are excited about playing them," Hopkins said. "They all know each other and some of them went to school together in junior high. I hate the word 'rivalry.' It's not.

"They're part of us. They're Lawrence kids, too."

LHS also downplayed the LHS-Free State match, instead setting its sights on its Joan Wells Invitational on Saturday at LHS that will feature the top teams in Class 6A and 5A.

"We have a huge tournament this weekend and that's what we're gearing up for," Huntsinger said. "This is a big week for us. We have a fun quad on Thursday and a big tournament on Saturday.

"This is my favorite week of the season, it really is."

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