It took the emotions of Senior Night and an enthusiastic crowd, but Lawrence High volleyball took out Free State in four sets after two improbable comebacks Thursday at LHS.
LHS beat FSHS, 26-24, 27-25, 18-25, 25-22, a confidence boost the Lions needed heading into sub-state. LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said the seniors still have a spark left in them that they want to carry through to Saturday’s tournament.
“Being potentially the last week of the season,” she said, “I think they were seeing the end and didn’t want it to be the end. They’re not ready to be done.”
And when faced with adversity against the Firebirds, the Lions summoned enough energy from the crowd to come back from an early five-point hole in the first set, then finished with an 8-2 run.
The second set was even more challenging. FSHS was up 10-2, and a couple of points later, Kailee Dudley slammed a kill on the Lions, and it looked like the Firebirds were about to put the set away. But LHS fought back and won the second set.
On Tuesday, LHS struggled inits home quad, so something happened in two days that made the team look several times better.
“Instead of playing safe, they played aggressive, and it made all the difference in the world,” Magnuson said.
The Firebirds returned to form in the third set and didn’t let off after they gained control, winning the set with the biggest point differential of the night, 25-18. The momentum was equal, and that’s how the two teams played the fourth set.
Magnuson wasn’t worried that her team didn’t put the Firebirds away in the third set.
“I told them that there was no way we were going to get out of here with a three-game match,” she said. “It’s too big of a rivalry, and Free State’s a good team.”
FSHS coach Nancy Hopkins declined to comment.
LHS senior Kailey Wingert was in the middle of her last match at LHS.
And she wanted to go home on the best note possible.
“After they won, we said that was it,” she said. “We weren’t giving them any more.”
The Lions won the fourth set, and Wingert credited the victory to her teammates and the fans.
“We just played more with heart,” she said. “It was Senior Night, and I know they all stepped up, too.”
The Firebirds beat the Lions last month on FSHS’s Senior Night, and Mariah Dickson, Brie Mingus, Sam Landgrebe and Dezzie James won in front of their home crowd. Thursday, LHS’s Wingert, Kelsey Kilburn, Christina Haswood and manager Ashleigh Lawson did the same.
FSHS (20-15) and LHS (13-21) will play at Olathe East High School for the sub-state tournament on Saturday. Matches are set to start at 2 p.m.