Lions, Firebirds volleyball fall at sub-state

October 21, 2012


— Lawrence High’s volleyball season ended with a 25-9, 25-13 loss to host Gardner-Edgerton in the first round of a Class 6A sub-state on Saturday.

“The score wasn’t indicative of their play today,” LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said. “They played well until the end, aggressive, and I’m very proud of them.”

Gardner, the No. 2-ranked team in 6A, improved to 33-6.

“They’re an incredible team,” Magnuson said of G-E. “They’re just solid all around.”

The Lions finished 17-18.

Firebirds flat in semifinal loss

Free State High volleyball coach Nancy Hopkins tried to figure out Saturday afternoon why her team had lost, 25-18, 25-20, in the sub-state semifinals to a Blue Valley West team the Firebirds had swept in straight sets just four days earlier.

“I don’t know,” Hopkins said. “They were the same team. They had the same girls. There wasn’t anything new. We just didn’t play very well. They came to play and we didn’t, I guess.”

The loss marked not only the end of the season but also the prep careers of the team’s nine seniors — Logan Hassig, Faythe Brungardt, Katy Davis, Shelby Holmes, Molly Ryan, Bailey Harrell, Kailee Dudley, Kylie Dever and Ashley Powers. Hopkins felt badly that it had to end that way for them.

“Volleyball’s a game of momentum,” the coach said, “and we just never could get any momentum going.”

FSHS had swept BVW in straight sets, 25-17, 25-10, on Tuesday at Topeka, but at sub-state Free State (26-12) fell behind early in both sets.

“They were hitting the ball hard and we were digging them up,” Hopkins said, “we just weren’t putting them away.”

Blue Valley West (22-10) set up its defense to stop Holmes on the outside and Hopkins said the Jaguars seemed to block everything Holmes hit for awhile, which took Free State out of its comfort zone.

Playing opposite of Holmes, Harrell delivered some kills for Free State.

“Her hits were going down,” Hopkins said, “and for some reason she was able to get them through the blockers.”

Harrell’s play sparked the Firebirds in the second set but it came too late, with FSHS already in a significant hole.

Ultimately, the way Free State lost surprised Hopkins.

“When you have that many seniors,” the coach said, “you expect that experience to kind of take over and you expect them to come out ready and hungry, especially after losing to Lawrence High on Thursday. But that just didn’t happen.”


Homey 5 years, 8 months ago

“The score wasn’t indicative of their play today,” LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson said.

Correct. It was however indicative of the level of skill of the coaching that this team received all season. Attitude reflects leadership and coach you don't have it. You had a solid group of players but you failed to get them to play to their full potential. This team had some great moments this season in spite of you and typically because one or two of them filled the role you as a coach are supposed to fill.

The Lions dug a deep hole for themselves and got a very low seed in sub state because you failed them. You had some talented teams over the past six years but you never get the full potential out of them. Get your act together or for the sake of the program and it's proud tradition give someone else a chance.

As I said in my first post of the season, this team lacked a real coach. Your never did a thing to prove me wrong. I truly wish you had.

Lawrence1900 5 years, 8 months ago

Looking at the record as reported by the only source I could find on the net - MaxPreps:

LHS Varsity VB Record 2007 - 2012 Percentage of wins 2007: .154 [Maguson's First year] 2008: .263 2009: .500 2010 .381 2011: .450 2012: .485

The trend has been up since 2010 but still under .500 which has to be frustrating for both the team and the coach. If the record as reported by MaxPreps is wrong the coach should correct it online. If it is right, then either LHS did not have a pool of good players, the coach is not getting the most out of her players, or a mix of both. If this record is right then some post season reflection on how the season might have gone better and what can be learned for the benefit of future teams is in order, possibly even a change at the top.

From the posts of some of the parents, a lot of positives things were learned by these players off the court that had nothing to do with the final score. That may mean the parent(s) who was(ere) unhappy with the season needs to redefine "winning" to those things that their daughter learned off the court, since the leadership is unlikely to change in the near future. Then too, it's only a game.

Cori_green 5 years, 8 months ago

As I told my sister from your last post, anyone who can comment without using their real name doesn't deserve your attention. Clearly they are too much of a coward to be taken seriously. I am very proud of my sister and of this team. They have all worked so very hard. If you are going to make a negative comment then use your real name. Then, maybe you could have some legitimate points. Stephanie is not bigger than the Lawrence High volleyball team. It takes a lot more than just one person to coach a team to victory. This coaching staff has nothing to hang their heads about. For three months they have give up their personal lives and dedicated themselves 100% to those kids. They have made a difference in these kids lives not only on the court, but most importantly off the court. Way to go Chesty Lions.

Homey 5 years, 7 months ago

No it's "Mag" I was referring to. She shows favoritism for a family member on the team. Cries crocodile tears at her least favorite players. Acted like she was back in high school all season. Most of the parents and many players are dissatisfied with her coaching style. LHS can do much better. We are just glad that club play is here.

Ken Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

My name is Ken Miller, and my daughter plays for FSHS. So my credibility already surpasses this Homey person and grandma, too.

I get it when there is a level of frustration that needs to be expressed after both Free State and Lawrence ended their seasons much earlier than they wanted, and in Free State's case, much earlier than expected. I also get it that with any team - high school, college or pro - there is going to be a certain amount of drama within, and how that team handles that drama has a lot to do with the level of success achieved. I can only speak about Free State's season with any accuracy, but I watched a team this season with more talent than they've had in the three years I've been paying attention. This FSHS team won the Seaman tournament, beating several teams that will be going to State next week. FSHS also was the runner-up in the Emporia tournament, losing the championship match to the team that will likely win the 6A state championship again. This team also stomped LHS - twice - before losing in four sets last week. In that match, Lawrence played outstanding volleyball. But for a host of reasons nobody can accurately depict, we came up flat in Substate. Stuff happens.

My point is this: you can't blame coaching for the way FSHS's season finished out, and I suspect you can't blame Coach Magnusson for the way their season went. I CAN fix some blame on the drama that I saw unfold in FSHS's season - ridiculous accusations that unfortunately took focus away from volleyball and placed it on a$$inine issues - as a partial explanation. What our family and my daughter have chosen to do is use this as a lesson in how to deal with adversity - way beyond just volleyball, but career, life, etc. And with that, she will lace 'em up for club season and be that much more prepared.

Ken Miller 5 years, 8 months ago

And anonymously you take a swipe at Coach Hopkins. Classy.

lrhoward 5 years, 8 months ago

well said Cori, I'm so proud of these girls and the coaching staff. Monica has had the privledge to know and play with these girls the past two years.LHS team and parents have welcomed us and that is a reflection of coach Magnuson and staff.This team has faught hard all year and might not have the "all star" talent as some teams but they displayed the true meaning of team work and friendship all year long and that makes them winners in the game of life! Lisa Howard

ldawg 5 years, 8 months ago

It's not surprising to see stones thrown and finger pointing happen during times of adversity. It is also not fair to attack someone anonymously. Both Ken and Lisa are correct that this experience is more about life lessons. This season was not as successful as one would have wished, however there were some bright spots that LHS should build on.

One thing I have learned about watching my girls play and grow in this sport, is it is up to me as a parent to teach them what they can control and react in a positive and forward-looking way. A coach may take them out, sit them on the bench, or put them in a position they don't agree. What really matters, is how they respond to the situation. What they do before, in, after practice, and in the off-season is crucial as players have the control to maximize their ability. LHS juniors, sophomores, and freshman, challenge yourself to come back next season stronger and better than ever. Stay focused and work hard until then and win or lose, you will learn a lot more about what it takes to be successful in life and have a blast doing it.

Coaches, thank your time and effort and especially for helping Caitlin learn and grow this season.

-Mike B

listener 5 years, 8 months ago

Agree with the positive posts. Mags is a terrific coach and more importantly, person. She truly cares about each one of those girls and gives her all for them in and out of season. Has she done things that on any given day any one of us might not understand or agree with? Sure. That is unavoidable in team sports. I have to wonder what Homey does for a living and if he/she would like to do it in such a public forum that we could all comment on his/her performance. So, to Mags.......stand tall. Know that you have been a positive influence on these girls. Don't sweat the the kids say "haters gonna hate" :)

volleydad 5 years, 8 months ago

Excellent observations!

There's inevitable frustrations with the end of most high school teams' season, as only a very small handful make it to state, which is as it should be. Sometimes those overshadow the good things that happened, but time will usually heal that pain.

Regarding coaching - the state of high school sports (with the exception of some privates/parochial types) is one where the coach gets whomever comes through the doors from their limited area. Those of you with sour grapes attitudes (Homey comes to mind) need to realize that this wish for change can come true. It could be for the better or just as likely for the worse.

One of the great lessons that these young women learn is that you do the best with what you have. There will be things you can change, some you can't - there will be 'up' seasons, there will be 'down' seasons. It just the nature of the game, and of life as well. Good lessons learned.

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