Lawrence High volleyball at state tournament
The Lawrence Lions matched up against the No. 1 seed in the 6A state tournament Friday. LHS was unable to take down the top team.
Topeka Lawrence High’s volleyball team endured a bittersweet finish to its season Friday evening, as the Lions went 1-2 at the Class 6A state tournament and came up just short of qualifying for today’s semifinals.
The bitter part came in the form of the Lions dropping the first two matches they played, 25-19 and 25-19, to top-seeded Washburn Rural and 21-25, 25-12 and 25-20 to No. 4 seed Blue Valley West in match No. 2.
The sweet part came when the Lions (24-18) won their final match of the season, avenging three previous losses to fifth-seeded Maize, 25-16, 21-25, 25-23.
At the end of the day, the Lions left the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka with a smile, but also with a feeling of unfinished business haunting them.
“It’s nice that these girls are disappointed,” LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said. “Because that means that they expected more from themselves. It hurts right now because we were five points away from going to the semis, but at least we finished on a good note.”
In the finale, the Lions were much looser than they had shown in their two losses, whipping Maize in the opening game and then outlasting the Eagles while playing for pride.
“They’re not going to the semis, and we’re not going to the semis, so now it’s a matter of who wants to walk out of here with a win and who wants to go home winless,” said junior Lillian Schonewise of her coach’s pregame words leading up to the match.
Added Magnuson: “They were much more relaxed in that one and were playing just to play, which is how we should’ve been all day.”
Instead, the Lions let their minds dictate some of their play. After topping Blue Valley West, 25-21, in the opening game of their second match of the day, LHS was blitzed, 25-12, in a game in which it never showed up. Despite the Game 2 trouncing, the Lions regrouped and battled hard in the third and deciding game of the match.
Holding a 16-14 lead late in the match, and sensing with every point that they were destined to make it to today’s semis, the Lions slipped and saw the Jaguars go on a 7-1 run to lead 21-17 down the stretch.
“In the second game, we just fell apart,” junior setter Kiely Mosiman said. “And in the third game, we didn’t really start playing until the end. We can’t do that.”
The end of the second match marked the unofficial end of the Lions season and the girls knew it as they walked off the floor.
“I think everyone tried their hardest,” senior Carrie Klemencic said. “We maybe thought after winning that first game that we had it. We all just wanted it so bad. But we didn’t get it done.”
Although the team fell short of its ultimate goal, the Lions took a distinct step forward this season. After finishing without winning a game at the 2008 state tournament, the Lions won a match and three games at this year’s state tourney. What’s more, they proved that they belonged.
“We’re disappointed that we didn’t make the semifinals,” Magnuson said. “But we have nothing to hang our heads about. This team hasn’t made back-to-back trips to state since we last won state (1995). We’re a familiar face around here now.”