Santa Fe Trail edges LHS in KVL volleyball opener
Leavenworth The Lansing High volleyball team's hopes of repeating as Kaw Valley League champions caught a snag Tuesday night.
That's because the Santa Fe Trail Chargers - the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class 4A and defending state champions - handed the Lions a 25-14, 25-20 loss in the league-opener at Immaculata High School.
"They came out here and showed what's up, and that's really cool," LHS senior Jessie Delinger said. "Congrats to them for winning, but I definitely think we could have handled it better. We just came out a little slow."
Lansing (8-6 overall, 1-1 KVL) later beat Immaculata. LHS started slow in that match too, but won, 25-18, 25-17. Trail also beat Imac, 25-9, 25-5.
If it's any consolation, last year Lansing lost to Trail in the first league match of the season and still won the KVL title. That's because LHS responded to the loss with a 21-match winning streak that included eight straight wins in the league.
The Chargers seized control instantly as junior Emily Forbes blitzed the Lions with a series of blistering serves. She fired five aces in a game-opening 6-0 run before a service error put the Lions on the board.
Lansing eventually leveled the game to the point where the teams traded points, but the Lions never fully recovered from the early onslaught.
Game two was far more competitive from start to finish. LHS took a 2-1 lead on kills by Kristen Jensen and Kate Courtney. Trail rallied back and opened up a 13-6 lead. Lansing answered by riding Brittney Lang and Breanne Sanders' serves to pull within 21-20 before SFT pulled away.
Lansing had an equally slow start to its match against Immaculata. The Raiders capitalized on the Lions' lack of focus and erupted to a 9-1 lead in game one. Once the Lions settled down, they were nearly flawless. Courtney, Delinger, Lang and Rachel Milnark pounded two kills apiece and Courtney added a solo block during a 12-3 run that gave the Lions a 13-12 lead.
Lang pounded three more kills and Delinger and Courtney added two apiece to put the game away, 25-18.
Lansing lost its focus again at the start of game two and Immaculata pounced to a 5-1 lead. This time, LHS refocused sooner and took care of business quicker, 25-17. The Lions used a well-rounded attack on offense in the final game as eight different players recorded kills.
It was evident from the match against Imac that Lansing still is struggling to play consistently.
"Our intensity goes up and down with our consistency," Courtney said. "When we're doing good, we're doing really, really good. When we're doing bad, we're doing really bad. That's something we need to work on."
Fortunately for the Lions, the instances of good play came in longer stretches Tuesday. That could be an indication that the squad is starting to jell.
"We have all that young talent on our team," Delinger said. "And they're getting better every single time out."
Lansing next plays at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Louisburg Tournament. LHS won the tournament title last year, and that tournament also was the turning point in the Lions' season when they finally developed consistent play.
Courtney said the Lions hoped to follow the path of last year's team and use the all-day tournament to correct mistakes right away and grow as a team.
"It's really helpful when you can just play (all day)," she said. "When you do something wrong, you can fix it right away and you don't have to wait until practice. You can't simulate games in practice. There's nothing like playing. That's what makes you better."