Just when Lawrence High’s volleyball players started feeling confident and comfortable at a difficult Tuesday home quadrangular, they were forced to adjust to an unpredictable setback.
The Lions already had beaten Manhattan, 17-25, 25-18, 25-20, and showed real fight at the end of a first-set loss to Topeka-Hayden, the Kansas Volleyball Association’s No. 1 team in Class 4A, when senior setter Brealynn May had to leave the court in the second set. LHS failed to win another set, losing 25-21, 25-10 to Hayden and 25-9, 25-18 to the No. 1 team in 6A, Topeka-Washburn Rural.
May, who leads Lawrence in assists, hadn’t been feeling well the last few days and after playing through some illness for more than four sets, couldn’t go on. She left the gymnasium before the Lions’ match against Rural began.
LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said it was tough for the players to react to May’s exit.
“It’s more of a disruption that you’re worried about your teammate,” Magnuson said. “I think when you have that concern, and these girls are as close as they are, that kind of trumps anything going on. They want to make sure she’s OK.”
With seniors Brianna Anderson and Monica Howard, as well as juniors Caitlin Broadwell and Sami Buffalomeat, delivering kills early on against Hayden, while seniors Zoe Reed and Alexis Mountain and freshman Caroline Dykes came up with crucial digs, LHS showed determination and battled.
The Lions (14-11) cut a six-point deficit late in the first set to two after Howard came up with a point on a block. The second set, too, had some promise before May was forced to leave. But the remainder of the second set and the first set against Rural became a prolonged adjustment period.
Broadwell admitted May’s absence frazzled LHS for a while, but because May had been sick and limited at practice, too, Broadwell thought the Lions were prepared for such a scenario. She said May’s replacement at setter, Mountain, showed great senior leadership.
“It’s good to know that if anything else happens to (May), we have Alexis,” Broadwell said.
Reed said the Lions had to band together and it took some time against some of the top teams in the state. She said the quad provided them with a chance to focus on remaining positive.
“Anybody can win on any given day,” Reed said. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past.”
Magnuson thinks Lawrence has turned a corner, with the postseason coming up fast.
“We’ve been talking a lot about believing in themselves,” the coach said, “and believing they can come out on top against teams that are strong and they did that all night.”
LHS next plays on Saturday at Emporia.