LHS volleyball knocks off FSHS in City Showdown

Lawrence High and Free State volleyball starters huddle up before the City Showdown at LHS Tuesday. The Lions claimed a three-set win to move to 20-1 on the year.

Members of the Lawrence High volleyball team couldn’t help but look forward to the City Showdown.

Despite storming past nearly any opponent it faced this year, Lawrence was looking forward to Tuesday’s tilt with Free State at LHS. The Lions didn’t disappoint either, as they claimed a three-set win over the Firebirds in a battle between a pair of ranked programs.

LHS, which is ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, improved to 20-1 on the year. FSHS, the No. 7 team in 6A, fell to 16-10 with the loss.

“We have been waiting for this all year, pretty much,” senior Baylee Unruh said. “It feels good to get this win on Senior Night. They are a good team. They are really well-rounded, and it felt good to get that win.”

For much of the season, Lawrence has appeared nearly unbeatable. Yet it was tested during a tightly-contest first set.

Lawrence High senior Laura Willoughby prepares to serve during a match with Free State at LHS Tuesday.

The Firebirds held an advantage for much of the opening set, including a two-point lead down the stretch. Senior Rachel Hickman and junior Kaitlyn Hamilton traded decisive kills with Sammy Williams and Unruh during the first set, as fans from both sides filled the gymnasium with loud cheers.

“It was hard to communicate sometimes, because it was so loud,” Hickman said. “This game always means a lot to me. It’s not fun to lose, though.”

Free State senior Rachel Hickman delivers a kill against Lawrence High during a match at LHS Tuesday.

However, the Lions were able to close things out by scoring four of the last five points to claim a 25-22 win. Senior Brooke Wroten and Abby Monroe made key plays to help give LHS an early advantage.

Following the first set, Lawrence didn’t trail for the rest of the night. LHS notched a 25-16 win in the second set before finishing up the win with a 25-14 victory in the third set.

It was a proper send-off for a talented nine-player senior class, which has fueled this impressive run in 2018.

“We were so excited to play and play well,” Williams said. “I’m glad we played well as a team.”

All nine seniors contributed to the Lions’ latest win. Lauren Maceli made several tremendous plays, leading the team with 13 digs. Hannah Stewart also added five digs, limiting the opposition’s attacks all night.

Michaela Cordova paced the squad with three aces, while Laura Willoughby registered 41 assists. Williams and Wroten each finished with a team-high 10 kills, while Unruh was credited with nine and Cordova finished with eight. Abby Monroe tallied seven kills.

“We have had these kids for a long time,” LHS head coach Stephanie Scarbrough said. “It’s going to be a big loss when we graduate, so we have to celebrate this as much as we can.”

Lawrence travels to Gardner Edgerton at 6 p.m. Thursday, while Free State will travel to Olathe South at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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