State bound: Lions win substate championship in convincing fashion
photo by: Shane Jackson
As the match between Wichita Southeast and Hutchinson came down to the wire, the Lawrence High volleyball team ducked into the adjacent hallway at LHS.
The Lions were not concerned with who they had to face in the substate championship. After storming past nearly every opponent in the regular season, Lawrence understood what it had to do to take care of business.
LHS did just that, topping Wichita Southeast (25-11, 25-7) in the substate championship Saturday to earn its second straight trip to the 6A tournament.
“We didn’t talk much about the teams we were playing,” senior setter Laura Willoughby said. “We knew if we played our game that we could take care of business. We knew today that our biggest competitor would be ourselves.”
For the second consecutive season, the Lions (33-2) punched their ticket to the final tournament in front of their home crowd.
This time around, however, the celebration was more subdued. Last season, LHS notched its first state berth since 2009. This year’s team, behind a stellar nine-person senior class, had every intention of making it back since the start of the 2018 campaign.
“It feels fantastic,” LHS head coach Stephanie Scarbrough said. “It has been the goal and they have earned it all along the way.”
Just days before the postseason began, the Lions were ranked No. 1 in Class 6A via the Kansas Volleyball Association. They slowly climbed up the rankings since the preseason poll when the team was listed at No. 9 in Class 6A.
“All season, we have been working toward that No. 1 spot,” senior Lauren Maceli said. “We kept checking it every Wednesday to see if we were there yet. We finally got it, and there was a huge celebration. It just feels like all of our hard work is paying off.”
Lawrence backed up the ranking with a dominating two-set win over Haysville-Campus (25-10, 25-12) in the first round.
Senior Sammy Williams delivered a team-high nine kills in the first match, slamming down several balls in emphatic fashion. Seniors Abby Monroe, Baylee Unruh and Michaela Cordova each registered six kills as well.
In the substate championship, senior Brooke Wroten tallied five kills by finding open spots in the defense with some misdirection at the net. Unruh and Williams recorded seven and six kills, respectively. Willoughby finished with a team-high 49 assists between the two matches, while Maceli notched 19 total digs for the Lions.
“It feels awesome, we are so excited,” Wroten said. “We came out with more energy and more intensity. We knew we wanted it, and we went and got it.”
The 6A state tournament is slated to begin Friday at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina.