Welch named to all-state squad
Casey Welch spent her first two years at Lansing High School finding her niche as a varsity volleyball player in the Kaw Valley League.
Her third year, however, she asserted herself as one of the most dominant players in the state. Welch, an LHS junior, was named Thursday as an honorable mention selection to the Kansas Volleyball Assn. Class 5A All-State team.
"I was really surprised," Welch said of the honor. "I forgot there was an all-state team, and I didn't think I would've made it. It never even crossed my mind really because there were so many good players in 5A from Miege and the other schools.
"It's probably one of the best things that's happened this year for me."
Welch may have been caught off-guard by the honor, but Lansing coach Julie Slater certainly wasn't. Slater has coached her share of top-notch players, and Welch, she said, is one of them.
"She's just a great player to have," Slater said. "She was kind of our go-to hitter, and she just does a great job all the way round. She does everything and does it well. She's a great team player too, and that's nice."
The All-State nod was just the latest honor for Welch, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter. In November she was the top vote-getter for the All-Kaw Valley League team. She also earned All-Metro honors.
Welch did plenty of damage on the LHS record books, too. She set a school record with 225 digs this season and set another record with 17 kills on one match. Her 333 kills also were a team high.
Despite her glitzy stats, Welch said the most enjoyable part of the season was succeeding as a team as the Lions played in Class 5A for the first time. Despite rising by class level, they still posted 30 wins, won the KVL crown, earned a sub-state title and made their first-ever appearance at the 5A state tournament.
"It was a really fun season," Welch said. "We all got along so well and had such a good time. It was really neat to go to 5A state for the first time. It was just a great season."
Welch has spent the off-season playing with her club team, the Kansas City Jazz, and the squad recently placed third at a tournament in Lawrence. Welch also has begun the college search. She said she would like to play volleyball at the next level, and she's excited to see what the recruitment process has to offer.
She also is anxious to see what's in store for her senior year of volleyball at LHS.
"I hope we can have another 30-win season," said Welch, who played on the 2002 state championship team. "I think we'll probably stay in 5A, so hopefully we'll reappear at state, win league and be as good as we can be."