Senior night spectacular
Lions dominate Mill Valley, Tonganoxie on volleyball senior night
Make no mistake about it: winning on volleyball senior night is a big deal at Lansing High.
Winning, in general, is a big deal at LHS, but in this program - one of the most dominant volleyball programs in state history - senior night victories are part of the tradition.
The Lions (21-3) made sure the outcomes of their matches on Tuesday night were never in question as they manhandled Mill Valley and Tonganoxie, taking both matches in two games.
"The six of us have played together since sixth grade, so it was so important to go out winning in this town because this is where we started," said senior outside hitter Casey Welch.
By winning, seniors Whitney Lozenski, Dayna Norwood, Dana Sanders, Lauren Griffen, Keele McLaurin and Welch closed out their home careers on a high note.
"I just thought they all played (great) - especially the seniors. The seniors, they just were awesome," LHS coach Julie Slater said.
Lansing opened the evening by facing off against Mill Valley - a team it could face during sub-state action. The Lions quickly asserted control. McLaurin fired an early ace, Welch smashed two kills and Delinger pounded a kill to put LHS on top 6-1. An ace by Lozenski, two kills from Riann Deere and three more from Welch pushed the lead to 19-14. Deere smashed two more and Welch had the final kill to close out game one, 25-22.
The Jaguars rushed to a 4-1 lead in game two, but Lansing roared back. After a 7-2 run that included two kills by Deere, a solo block by Kate Courtney and a kill by Delinger, the Lions led 12-10. After that the squads traded points until the match was tied at 23-23. A kill and an ace by Welch closed out the game, 25-23, and sealed the win for Lansing.
The seniors and their parents were recognized prior to the match against Tonganoxie. Each senior and their parents were introduced to the crowd. Then, assistant coach Amy Turner read a note to the seniors that Slater had written. Slater said it was important for her seniors to hear her words and feelings for them, even though she was unable to say them herself.
"If I would have to read it, I would just be a mess," she said. "But when I can stand there I can look at the signs and I can focus on other things. That's how I get through things. I don't want to be an emotional mess because that hurts my team."
Slater's note included her thoughts, feelings and memories about each of the girls - all six of whom she had coached since sixth grade. Tears flowed and hugs were shared.
Then it was back to business.
When the Lions returned to the court to play Tonganoxie, they fed off the emotion of the night and pounded the Chieftains, 25-10, 25-13. Neither game ever was close. LHS surged to a 6-1 lead in game one and rolled to the victory behind three aces from Sanders and two from Courtney. In game two, the Lions used a 10-3 run midway through the game to assert control. Welch pounded six kills and McLaurin fired two aces in the victory.
For the night, Welch led the way with 19 kills. Deere added eight and Jessie Delinger had six.
Norwood had a team-high 11 digs, Welch and Sanders had eight and McLaurin had seven.
McLaurin and Courtney had four aces apiece and Welch added three. Courtney had four blocks and Delinger and Griffen had two apiece. Sanders had a team-high 25 assists and Lozenski added 13.
For more on the Lansing volleyball senior night, as well as a photo gallery, pick up the Oct. 6 edition of The Current and visit lansingcurrent.com.