Senior Night usually isn’t about remembering the night itself as much as it’s about remembering the seniors honored on the night.
In the way of results Tuesday, the Free State High volleyball team didn’t do anything memorable on its final night of home matches. The Firebirds lost all three of their matches, to Shawnee Mission Northwest, 25-16, 25-19; to St. Teresa’s, 25-21, 25-16; and to Shawnee Heights, 25-12, 26-28, 25-21.
Spectators won’t have to leave Lawrence to see the Firebirds play again. The city rivalry volleyball match is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Lawrence High.
“We didn’t play very well tonight, but we’ll get it back. I’m not too worried about it,” said Firebirds coach Nancy Hopkins on a night the team wore pink uniforms to promote breast-cancer awareness.
Long after the five seniors — middle blockers Chantay Caron and Marissa Thibodo, setters Clare Frantz and Katelyn Wyatt and outside hitter Alex Mollohan — forget Tuesday’s scores, they’ll remember how much they enjoyed playing volleyball with their classmates.
Hopkins will miss them all, as well as manager Kajsa Mullenix. Hopkins talked about what she enjoys about coaching the five seniors, starting with the setters.
“Katelyn’s a really smart player, and she’s a real good leader, as far as trying to keep the other players motivated,” Hopkins said of Wyatt. “Clare’s the same way. They’re both the same. Their strengths are the same.”
Caron and Thibodo do their best work at the net.
“Chantay and Marissa are going to be missed a lot because they’re both aggressive hitters,” Hopkins said. “They’re both aggressive blockers and they add so much to the offense. It’s going to be hard to replace them.”
The crowd will miss Mollohan’s powerful jump serves, and so will her coach.
“Alex has gotten to be such a strong player, hitting and serving,” Hopkins said. “She puts that top spin on there and it’s tough to return it.”
Wyatt and Thibodo addressed what they’ll miss about their classmates.
“Probably for Marissa, what I’ll miss most is when she gets up on those over-passes and just slams them down,” Wyatt said. “It’s my favorite thing to watch ever. Chantay, the way she jumps. Hops (coach Hopkins) tells her she’s jumping too high when she blocks when the ball comes down on our side. I wish I had that problem. Alex Mollohan and her crazy jump serves that really help us out when we need some points. Clare Frantz, we’re two of a kind, two setters. We always warm up together and do everything together, so I’m really going to miss her.”
Thibodo said she will miss the team unity.
“We just click together so well because we’ve known each other for so long,” she said. “What I’m going to miss about Katelyn is she’s a really good setter and it’s really hard to find setters you click with. Same thing with Clare. We have two really good setters and it’s just so easy for us to get that connection with our setters. ... I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone top Alex’s jump serve. It’s pretty beastly. She’s a monster. Chantay’s got those ups. She’s really intimidating and that’s always a really good thing to have.”
The seniors were featured in the game program and the funniest line in it ran alongside a picture of Mollohan: “Alex would like to thank her mom for teaching her ALL of her wonderful volleyball knowledge (over and over again) and requests that she please stop giving her advice now.”