During warm-ups of the Lawrence High volleyball team’s home match against Shawnee Mission East on Thursday night, LHS junior Lillian Schonewise ripped a ball off the shoulder of SME setter Hayley Hansford.
It wasn’t anything malicious, as Hansford was still on the court while the Lions were trying to warm up and simply got in the way of one of Schonewise’s rockets.
Seconds later, another ball — this one off the right hand of LHS senior Jasmyn Turner — came whizzing by Hansford again.
Demonstrating obvious discomfort from the sting in her shoulder, Hansford quickly stepped off the court and out of the way.
That was the only time all night that the Lions had the upper hand in their match against the Lancers, as East knocked off LHS, 25-15 and 25-14, to hand the Lions their only loss at Thursday’s home quad.
East’s victory came just five days after the Lions came out on top (36-34 and 27-25) in a match between the two teams at the Joan Wells Invitational, and it was clear that the Lancers had not forgotten about that setback.
“They came out with a lot of fire, and they wanted revenge,” said Schonewise, who led LHS in kills and blocks on the night. “We knew they were another tough team, but we weren’t ready for their hunger.”
It’s not that the Lions played poorly in the loss to East. Far from it. For more than half of each game, the Lions scrambled as hard as they could to keep up with the scrappy Lancers, with Alex Kincaid, Kendyll Severa and Jasmyn Turner flopping and flailing all over the back row to keep rallies alive.
In the end, the Lions simply made too many unforced errors and weren’t able to capitalize on the few mistakes that SME made.
“Our serve-receive wasn’t as good as it usually is, and that really made it hard to run our offense,” LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said. “But I thought on defense we played pretty well.”
The night wasn’t a total loss for the Lions, who looked sharp in sweeping matches against Olathe North (25-6 and 25-12) and Blue Valley (25-20 and 25-17) leading up to the main event.
Lawrence’s back-to-back sweeps were made especially sweet by the fact that the victories came while employing a new offense. Instead of running their regular set that features two setters, the Lions went to a 5-1 on Thursday night and asked junior setter Kiely Mosiman to do nearly all of the setting.
Although the new role took Mosiman’s legs a few miles farther than she might have traveled in the past, Magnuson said she was thrilled with how well her young setter took to the challenge.
“That wasn’t a problem at all,” Magnuson said. “Kiely wants to play all the time. She wants to be out on the court. They all do. All of these girls are so competitive.”
Magnuson also praised the play of middle hitter Carrie Klemencic, who, like Schonewise, was nearly unstoppable at the net during the first two matches.
“Both of my middles played great tonight,” Magnuson said. “Lil and Carrie both had great nights. They know that, and they know that’s what we expect from them all the time.”
The Lions (16-9) will travel to Topeka Hayden on Tuesday.