Lansing JV volleyball wins Kaw Valley League title
Shawnee One week ago the Lansing High junior varsity volleyball team's season seemed on the verge of spiraling out of control.
The Lions entered the Shawnee Mission Northwest Tournament playing solid volleyball, and they had a 13-3 record to show for it. Then, with one misstep, everything changed. Sophomore Kristen Jensen, the Lions' regular setter - as well as a go-to hitter - went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
With Jensen out, the Lions were forced to change from a two-setter system to a one-setter system. In addition to not being comfortable with the new system, the Lions were concerned about Jensen's health. As a result, LHS went 0-3 at the tournament. Three days later they lost to Bishop Ward and then eked out a win against Piper.
As recently as practice on Friday afternoon, the Lions still seemed out of sync with their new 5-1 system.
After a long week of confusion, the Lions rediscovered the zone on Saturday at the junior varsity Kaw Valley League Tournament.
In pool play, matches consisted of two games. Lansing beat Santa Fe Trail, 25-11, 28-26, and Bonner Springs, 25-8, 25-7. Then it split with Perry-Lecompton, 25-19, 23-25, and split with Bishop Ward 23-25, 25-14. By winning six of eight games, the Lions earned a spot in the tournament semifinals against Mill Valley.
Against the Jaguars - a team this class of Lions had never defeated - Lansing again looked out of sync in game one. After the score was tied at 11-11, Mill Valley blew the lead open to 24-15. The game seemed over, but the Lions suddenly awoke. Sitting on the bench with a brace on her injured left knee, Jensen told her teammates to focus and force a side out. The Lions responded. They settled down and went on a tear. Brittney Lang and Amanda Darrow pounded kills. Elizabeth Cristiano fired an ace. The Jaguars committed attack errors. Suddenly LHS had a 25-24 lead. A service error by Cristiano and a questionable tip call gave the game to Mill Valley, 28-26, but by now the Lions were awake and in a groove. Lang had two kills and two blocks in game two and Erin Griffen fired two aces as LHS won, 25-23. Then the Lions rolled to a 15-6 win in game three and advanced to the finals.
The championship match pitted Lansing against Bishop Ward. LHS controlled game one and took a 24-21 lead before Ward stormed back for a 26-24 win. Lansing fell behind 10-5 in game two but came back and took a 19-16 lead before hanging on for a 25-23 victory.
The Lions had their backs to the wall again in game three as they trailed early, 8-3. A kill by Griffen, another by Morgan Chiles and three more by Lang helped LHS surge ahead, 12-11. After a Cyclone hitting error and then a Ward kill, Lansing led 13-12. A tip kill by Cristiano brought the match to game point, and Lang's set to the far back corner found the floor and sealed the match, 15-12.
Team members were Katie Nietzke, Morgan Chiles, Sara Logan, Kristen Jensen, Katie Smith, Brittney Lang, Elizabeth Cristiano, Amanda Darrow and Erin Griffen.
For more of the Lansing junior varsity volleyball team's Kaw Valley League title, pick up the Oct. 10 edition of The Current.