Preps notebook: Seahawks soaring past competition in 2018

photo by: Andrew Rosenthal

The Bishop Seabury volleyball team celebrates a point against Veritas on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the East Lawrence Recreation Center.

The Bishop Seabury volleyball team has stormed onto the scene through the first 15 games of the 2018 campaign.

After going 2-0 in a triangular at East Lawrence Recreation Center Tuesday, the Seahawks are now 12-3 to start the season and are ranked No. 5 in Class 2A via the Kansas Volleyball Association. Bishop Seabury bested KC East Christian Academy (25-19, 25-18) and Veritas (25-19, 25-17) to tack on two more victories in the win column after winning just 10 games all of last year.

The biggest reason for the win improvement, however, is that the Seahawks have established chemistry as a unit.

“Most of these girls are returners,” head coach Brian Rios said. “They know my system and they know my expectations. They are able to be aggressive like I want them to on the court. In practice, they want to get better at the sport of volleyball.”

About this feature

Preps Notebook is a new feature from Journal-World high school sports reporter Shane Jackson that will run several times a week and highlight results and other information about local teams. For more on this new coverage plan, please read Shane’s introduction here.

Rios has tried to help build that culture in his second year at the helm.

In fact, Rios made a rule this season about players being required to wear a blue Bishop Seabury shirt for every practice and on game days. Rios got the idea from when he was a student athletic trainer with Kansas volleyball, as well as a grad assistant for the Oral Roberts volleyball team.

“It’s more about them feeling like a team of unity,” Rios said. “I want them to feel that importance and that they need to hold themselves to a higher standard, especially on game days when they need to be focused and ready to perform.”

In addition, the team has created a tradition for every road game this year by playing the same two songs, including “Man Down,” by Rihanna, on the ride to every match away from home.

“They are crazy, but they get us hyped,” junior Gabby Aubel said. “Last year, Coach Rios and I both knew the song ‘Man Down’ and we sang that together. This year, now that everyone knows the words, we all sing it together.”

Regardless, it appears the team is closer than ever and it has been evident on the court.

“We can really trust each other,” senior Lindsey Hornberger said. “When you first start out, you don’t really know each other. You have to grow and learn as the season progresses. I think we have a lot of potential. I’m excited to see where the season goes.”

Sammy Williams continues to lead Lions

Senior Sammy Williams has been basically unstoppable this season for the Lawrence High volleyball team.

Williams has racked up plenty of kills to help lead LHS to a 9-1 record, including a 4-0 clip in the Sunflower League, during her final year with the program. Lawrence, which is ranked No. 6 in Class 6A, picked up two more wins by defeating Shawnee Mission North (25-8, 25-9) and Olathe West (25-13, 25-13) in its home triangular at LHS on Tuesday.

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.

Through the first 10 matches, Williams is leading the team with 66 kills.

“I just want to do whatever I can to help the team,” Williams said. “I just want to be able to help that way.”

Williams highlights a stellar senior class, which has nine different players making an impact at the varsity level.

For Williams, though, it doesn’t seem that long ago that she was making her varsity debut during postseason play in her sophomore season.

“That was exciting,” Williams said. “Everybody on the team was really welcoming, so that was good.”

As Williams gained more experience, she’s continued to improve at all phases of her game. Williams has adjusted to the speed of the competition, and has a knack for making key plays down the stretch.

Williams has also embraced a leadership role on a senior-filled roster, which has a goal of making it back to the 6A state tournament after being eliminated on the first day last year.

“It will take everybody sticking together,” Williams said. “We don’t need to do too much, but we just need each individual to do what she needs to do and not try and take over anybody’s position.”

Tough test for FSHS volleyball

The Free State volleyball team will certainly find out what it’s made of this week.

FSHS began a daunting stretch of playing four times in five days with a road triangular at Olathe Northwest. Free State ultimately dropped the match to Olathe Northwest, the No. 3 team in Class 6A, and topped Olathe East on Tuesday.

Still, the Firebirds (3-4) will have to turn around quickly as they will play host to Emporia and Seaman for a triangular Wednesday. FSHS will then travel to SM Northwest for another road match Thursday before ending the week with a tournament at Lee’s Summit West Saturday.

“I don’t like this week schedulewise,” second-year head coach Keely Hammontree said. “We are just worried about finishing each match. Finishing seems to be our biggest hurdle right now. We are just not closing.”

Because of the difficult schedule, Free State took precautionary measures to prepare for this five-day stretch.

Last week, players were encouraged to ice themselves more and they didn’t push as hard as normal during stretches. In addition, Hammontree cut Monday’s practice short by 30 minutes to help keep players fresh.

“It is more mental preparation,” senior Rachel Hickman said. “We want to keep working hard in practice to get ready for that. I know we are going to be mentally tired, so we have to prepare for that.”

Free State will begin its home triangular at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

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