What did you expect from a high-strung city showdown? A yawner?
The Lawrence High and Free State volleyball teams stumbled into the intracity match that concluded the LHS quadrangular Thursday, but apparently each team saved all of its heroics and all of its heart for the final affair.
What came of it was an epic battle that the Lions eked out, 2-0 (28-26, 25-22), at a rockin' LHS gymnasium.
Lawrence's victory over its fiercest foe was the only city win in the quadrangular, which featured Roeland Park Miege and Olathe East.
Still, this year's city showdown was one for the ages. Only a rivalry match can possibly bring this much to the table.
"Lawrence High-Free State is always a tough battle," Firebirds coach Nancy Hopkins said. "And that was a great match."
From LHS senior Sarah Hayes' opening serve to LHS junior Bonnie Toplikar's final kill, the outcome never was certain. In the first game, neither team led by more than two points throughout. At one point, Free State was up, 11-9. Then, LHS led, 16-15. Then, Free State was up, 19-18. The pendulum kept swinging back and forth, time and time again.
With the score tied at 26, the Lions finally got two straight points, one off of a clutch kill by junior Bobi Riley, to take the game.
"There was so much emotion in this game," LHS coach Jo Huntsinger said. "We were expecting momentum swings like that."
LHS then jumped to a 6-0 lead in game two, led by four service aces from Toplikar and a Riley kill.
Slowly, though, Free State fought its way back into the game. Behind solid attacking by Jenny Heppert, Jamie Stanclift and Kristin Baker, the Firebirds came within striking distance at 23-21, but got no closer. Toplikar had two final kills to send the LHS half of the gymnasium into pure chaos.
"It's amazing for our two seniors," Riley said of Hayes and Nicole Hunter. "We really wanted to win this one for them. We did it for them."
The festive crowd -- half Lions, half Firebirds -- shouted chants back and forth, did its best to distract opposing players, and added so much to a match that really didn't need any help to be entertaining.
"There's no better atmosphere than our gymnasium," Huntsinger said, still sporting a huge grin. "There's nothing better."
Free State has a week off to nurse the wounds of an 0-3 quad before playing another quad at Olathe Northwest. The Lions, who went 1-2, don't. They will hold the Joan L. Wells Invitational Saturday at Lawrence High.
And now, they have priceless momentum on their side heading into it.
"This is amazing," Riley said. "It's great for momentum. We're going to do awesome."
Lawrence High Quadrangular
Shawnee Miege 2, Lawrence 0 (25-22, 25-11)
Olathe East 2, Free State 0 (25-14, 25-13)
Shawnee Miege 2, Free State 0 (25-20, 25-18)
Olathe East 2, Lawrence 0 (26-24, 25-18)
Lawrence 2, Free State 0 (28-26, 25-22)