Preps notebook: Lions remain motivated ahead of state tournament

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

LHS Senior Sammy Williams delivers a kill in a match against Shawnee Mission North on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Lawrence High School.

Everything about this year’s trip to the state tournament just feels different for the Lawrence High volleyball team.

Last season, LHS notched its first state berth since 2009 before eventually being eliminated on the opening day of the 6A state tournament. This year, though, the Lions are vying for a chance to compete on the second day and ultimately come away with some hardware.

Lawrence has not won a state volleyball title since 1995.

“The work continues,” LHS head coach Stephanie Scarbrough said. “It is not icing on the cake like it was last year.”

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

The Lawrence High volleyball team huddles up during a match against Free State on October 2, 2018 at LHS. The Lions (31-2) will host their sub-state tournament Saturday.

LHS (33-2) even had a much more tame celebration after claiming its second consecutive substate championship at home.

The entire team dove into a pile in the middle of the court following the final point of last year’s substate championship. This time around, Lawrence had a brief celebration in a team huddle after winning each of its four sets by at least 13 points.

“This feels way different,” senior Lauren Maceli said. “We know what we have to do now. We know what state is like, because we have been there before. We know what we have to do to win.”

But the Lions, who are ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, feel more prepared this year after failing to get out of pool play in 2017.

In pool play of last year’s state tournament, LHS suffered losses to Washburn Rural and Blue Valley West before closing things out with a win over Garden City. In many ways, however, that experience has proved to be beneficial for this year’s squad.

“I remember it was exciting and our student section got us pumped up,” senior Brooke Wroten said. “We learned we need to stay up, even if we are getting down. We just need to keep our momentum up.”

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

The Lawrence High volleyball team celebrates a point in a match against Shawnee Mission North on Sept. 11, 2018 at LHS.

LHS earned the top seed in this year’s 6A state tournament, which is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina. Blue Valley West, Blue Valley and Gardner Edgerton are the three teams in Lawrence’s pool.

The Lions have defeated all three teams this year, recording a 7-0 combined advantage in sets over those three programs.

Lawrence squares off with Blue Valley West (14-22) at 9:30 a.m., and it is scheduled to take on Gardner-Edgerton (28-8) at 11:30 a.m. Gardner-Edgerton was ranked No. 5 in Class 6A in the latest poll by the Kansas Volleyball Association.

Blue Valley, the No. 2 team in Class 6A, will take on LHS at 1:30 p.m. for the final match of pool play.

“Last year we went and played timid,” senior setter Laura Willoughby said. “This year, we know we can compete with the best.”

Firebirds cross-country teams prepare for state meet

Both Free State cross-country teams are slated to compete in the biggest meet of the year this weekend.

The state cross-country meet is slated to begin at 10:10 a.m. Saturday at Rim Rock Farm. The 6A boys will race at 11:10 a.m. The 6A girls event is scheduled for 12:55 p.m. Both teams are looking to close out the season on a strong note.

“I knew we have been competing really well,” FSHS head coach Steve Heffernan said. “I knew after the Rim Rock Classic that we could have a good showing at regionals. We just had to keep doing the things we have to do to get ready for it.”

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

The Free State boys cross-country team races off the start line at the Sunflower League meet at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

On the boys side, the Firebirds are coming off their lone win of the season. FSHS saved its best showing for the regional meet in Manhattan, in which runners finished in the top 26. Freshman Ben Shryock and junior Charlie Johnson each placed in the top 5 with impressive performances.

Johnson was the team’s only state qualifier last year, so this weekend could be an important learning experience for a young team.

“The ultimate mindset is to just do our best as we always do and race well,” sophomore Brock Cordova said.

The girls team, meanwhile, is coming off a second-place finish at the same regional meet.

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

The Free State girls cross-country team fire off the start line at the Sunflower League meet at Rim Rock Farm on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

Senior Julia Larkin and junior Erin Fagan eached finish in the top 5 for the Firebirds, who had five other runners finish in the top 23. Since the start of the season, FSHS has been determined to get back to the state meet after finishing seventh in 2017.

“Our team has been training really hard this year to do well at state,” Larkin said. “We all have definitely improved our times and have got faster as the season goes on.”

In addition, Larkin has a chance to join a prestigious group in her final race. After earning a medal in each of her first three trips to the state meet, Larkin can become the fifth female runner in program history to notch four individual state medals this weekend. No male runner has done that for the Firebirds in team history.

Last season, Larkin placed 14th with a time of 19:24.21.

“It is kind of sad that this is my last time running at Rim Rock. I have run there 11 times so far,” Larkin said. “I love the hills, and it is our home course. We all love it.”

City soccer teams eliminated from postseason

All three city boys soccer teams were eliminated in the first round of the postseason Tuesday.

Bishop Seabury was unable to overcome a number of injuries in a 6-0 loss to Trinity Academy at LHS. Trinity Academy took a 1-0 advantage at the intermission before pouring in five scores in the second half to knock off Bishop Seabury.

The Seahawks ended the year with a 9-4 record, which included a stretch of nine consecutive wins.

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

Head cocah Ivo Ivanov (left) walks off the field with a Bishop Seabury senior. The Seahawks lost 6-0 to Trinity Academy.

Lawrence High dropped a 4-0 decision at Liberal, and Free State suffered a loss during a thriller at Derby in its respective regional match. The teams were tied at 1-1 through the first 110 minutes, which included multiple overtimes. The Panthers ultimately secured the narrow win with a 6-5 advantage in penalty kicks over the Firebirds.

The Firebirds finished the year with a 7-9-1 record, and the Lions closed out the year with a 6-9-2 clip.

In addition, Eudora’s boys soccer team claimed a 2-0 victory over Tonganoxie in the opening round. Eudora will face Baldwin in the regional championship at 4 p.m. Thursday at BHS. The Bulldogs recorded a 6-1 win over Maranatha Academy.


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