Topeka — Lawrence High's volleyball team had shirts made for the state tournament that read, "All it takes is all we've got."
The Lions had all that it took to advance to the Class 6A state championship match as the lowest seed in the tournament.
They just did not have enough to overcome top-seeded Washburn Rural.
Lawrence finished as the state runner-up Saturday at the Kansas Expocentre in its first appearance at the tournament since 1997.
"I am so proud of our kids. We came here to win this tournament, and we almost did," Lions coach Jo Huntsinger said.
The Lions fell to the Junior Blues, 25-8, 25-15.
The first game did not start nor end well for the Lions. Washburn Rural took the first three points of the game, all from Kelsey Chipman, who created problems at the net for Lawrence throughout the match.
The Lions cut the lead to one early, but it was all Blues the rest of the way. With the score 10-6, the Blues scored 12 straight points through a series of aces, spectacular spikes and defensive mistakes by the Lions. Lawrence's Abby Schwartz provided rare offensive highlights in the first game, but they were far too few for the Lions to compete.
"The first game, we weren't intimidated, but we were tense," Schwartz said. "That got the best of us."
The second game started with a seemingly different Lawrence team taking the floor. The Lions played the net aggressively and opened with a 4-1 lead. They held the lead for the first half of the match, but the Blues scampered back to tie the game at 15.
The Blues took control from there and scored the last 10 points to win the state championship.
Schwartz led the Lions in kills with six, and teammate Bobi Riley contributed five.
Washburn Rural coach Kevin Bordewickand said his team played well against a Lawrence team he originally feared having to play.
"I told Jo I didn't want to see them in our pool. They are a very good team," Bordewickand said. "Our mentality was, we were going to rear back and hammer away."
The Lions certainly were good enough in Saturday's semifinal. They defeated second-seeded Overland Park Aquinas, 25-22, 25-17, to advance to the finals.
"We played a fantastic match; actually, we beat them badly." Huntsinger said.
The Lions played well defensively, digging Saints spikes and setting them to the net for kills. Bonnie Toplikar led the Lions with 11 kills against the Saints.
The second-place finish was the highest for the Lions since finishing third in 1997, the year Free State High opened.
Several down years ensued for Lawrence High after spending years as a volleyball powerhouse in the 1970s and 80s.
The Lions lose seven seniors, including Schwartz, but return a group that could keep Lawrence among the elite teams in Kansas.
"I couldn't have asked for more," Schwartz said. "I couldn't trade it for anything in the world."
Riley and Schwartz were named to the Kansas Volleyball Assn.'s All-State Tournament Team.