Nationals a challenge for Lions
Injuries and a last-minute change of strategy kept the KC-Jazz from finishing as high as they'd hoped to at the USA Junior Olympic Girls' Volleyball Championships.
The disappointing finish - 42nd - didn't keep Lansing High seniors Dayna Norwood and Casey Welch from having stellar performances on the national stage, however. Both players left the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City feeling good about their own individual performances.
"I thought I played pretty well," said Norwood, a defensive specialist who made her first trip to nationals. "I was pretty nervous the first day, but I got over it by the second day."
Welch, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, was forced to make the biggest sacrifice for the Jazz. The team's starting middle blocker hurt her shoulder the first day of the tournament and tried to play through it on day two. After that, the pain became overwhelming, so Welch switched from hitter to middle blocker.
"Honestly, I hate middle blocker," said Welch, who played middle blocker as a freshman at LHS before switching to hitter to better utilize her power and athleticism. "I don't like playing it, but I figured I'd do it for the team. It went OK, but it's not my favorite position."
Norwood said Welch filled in admirably at middle blocker. In fact, the Jazz won their first match with Welch at the middle position.
"She was amazing at middle, especially for having to step in and play it," Norwood said of Welch.
Both players said they are excited for the high school season to begin as they try to guide LHS back to another state tournament appearance. Welch has played a rigorous volleyball schedule since early spring, so she said she will take two weeks off to rejuvenate before team camp begins. Meanwhile, Norwood is in San Francisco this week at an invitation-only camp that focuses on the defensive specialist and libero positions.