Archive for Sunday, October 23, 2005

Free State, LHS volleyball struggle at sub-state

October 23, 2005


— Banaka Okwuone could not hold back her tears Saturday as her volleyball career at Free State High ended when the Firebirds lost to Olathe Northwest, 2-1, in the Class 6A sub-state tournament at Olathe South.

Free State took Olathe Northwest to a third game, but, much like the last time the teams met two weeks ago, the Ravens prevailed.

The Firebirds lost the first game of the match, 26-24, but rebounded to win the second game, 25-19. Free State had numerous chances to move on to state in a thrilling third game, but could not finish.

The Firebirds and Ravens traded points early in the game, but a nine-point run by Olathe Northwest put Free State behind, 20-14. The Firebirds rallied with a six-point run of their own to tie the game at 20, but Olathe Northwest rattled off three straight points, a deficit that was too much for Free State to overcome. The Firebirds ultimately lost the match, 25-23.

"We knew that it was now or never for us when we tied the game at 20," Okwuone said. "We had some mental breakdown and bad communication, and we just couldn't finish."

The tournament didn't go any better for Lawrence High. The Lions lost, 2-0, to Olathe South, the team they beat last year in the same tournament to qualify for state.

LHS coach Molly LaMere said the Falcons were playing for revenge Saturday.

"They are one of the best teams in the state, just like last year, and I think they thought last year we came in and stole it from them," LaMere said. "They were just the better team tonight."

Both city teams easily won their first matches. LHS defeated Topeka, 2-0, while Free State beat Olathe East, 2-0.

The Firebirds finished 20-16 on the season. Free State coach Nancy Hopkins said she was disappointed, but proud of her team's season.

"They didn't want this to be the last game of the season," Hopkins said. "We made the decision going into the game that we were going to leave it all on the court. That meant jumping a little higher, diving a little farther and giving it all we had. I think that we did that tonight."

The Lions, who lost their second game to Olathe South by a 27-25 score, felt the same way.

"I thought we played our best volleyball of the season," senior Sydney Wilson said.

"We came out to play tonight, we just fell two points short."

Free State will graduate five seniors: Okwuone, Sarah Heider, Julie Council, Aubrey Morris and Kelly Jewell. However, the Firebirds return four juniors, including blocker Kristen Karlin.

Karlin said she was excited about next year despite losing all of the seniors.

"We will be a great team," Karlin said.

LHS will lose four seniors, but will return the bulk of its contributors.


vball 12 years, 7 months ago

I have heard from sports parents about how one-sided the Journal World is when it comes to reporting sporting news for the high schools. My daughter plays volleyball for Lawrence High, and I have seen it all. I tend to believe these parents now. The above article in this morning's paper about the volleyball sub-states was a slap in the face for all of the hard working seniors on the Lawrence High volleyball team, in which 3 SENIORS were major contributors on the team, but yet your writer states in the very end of the article that the bulk of contributors will be back next year. To make matters worse for these girls, you mentioned all of the Free State seniors, but FAILED to do the same for Lawrence High. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Two of these Seniors played on the Class 6A STATE 2nd place team last year as Juniors, and one of them received All-Sunflower League honors last year, and will probably do the same this year, along with other seniors. Of course, last year's State article read "Lawrence High settles for 2nd", so how could I think that anything at the Journal World was going to change! Last year's team was ranked last at State, and worked their tails off playing the best ball they had ever played to get 2nd at state, but you thought they had just "settled".

This morning's article was all about Free State and how they almost beat a team that wasn't even ranked in the league. Olathe South had a record of 31-4, and is seeded 2nd at the 6A State tournament. Lawrence High knew they would have their hands full and have to be at their best. They played an awesome second game and had Olathe South rattled, but was that even mentioned? No, just the score was mentioned.

The Free State and Lawrence High volleyball teams deserved better than this. They should have had their own articles with more detail about their games, not one article combined to save room. Thanks for the lack of respect given to our senior girls. The tradition continues....

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