Lansing High lands 4 on All-KVL first team
"Surprised" is not a word Lansing High volleyball coach Julie Slater used when describing her reaction to seeing four Lions make the All-Kaw Valley League first-team.
"I felt all four were very deserving of that," the 23rd-year coach said. "I think anybody that saw the team play would agree with that, but we had such a great surrounding cast that any of the girls could've been on there."
For Lansing, the honor went to senior Kristen Jensen, juniors Brittney Lang and Julia Bates and sophomore Lisa Angello - the top statistical performers on a team that went 40-5, placed fourth at the Class 5A state tournament and won an undefeated league championship.
Jensen, a setter and outside hitter, was a multi-faceted performer who made a home on the program's single-season record board. Her 439 good serves were a LHS single-season record, her 278 total points rank second and her 1,132 good sets and 574 assists are the third-highest season marks in program history. She also had 37 aces, 29 solo blocks, 137 digs and 62 kills and was Lansing's captain and emotional leader.
"The team revolved around her leadership," Slater said.
Lang is a two-time All-KVL honoree at middle blocker. She led LHS with 99 solo blocks, 341 kills and a .462 hitting efficiency while chipping in 159 digs.
"It is fun to see Brittney be so successful because she works so hard at everything she does," Slater said.
Lang also was the top vote-getter for the All-League squad. That's a feat that Slater said puts Lang in elite company.
"There have been very few in history that have done that, and she is now among the all-time greats," Slater said. "That puts her up in the top category with Casey Welch, Natalie Uhart, Abby Schukman, Amy Cook, Angie Hubner, Petal Nelson : I can go on and on."
Bates doubled as a setter and hitter for the Lions, and she was effective in both roles. She notched 311 assists, 153 kills, 122 digs, 40 aces and 37 blocks in her first year at LHS after transferring from Leavenworth.
"We were thrilled to have Julia join us this year," Slater said. "She was a great addition to our team."
Another welcome addition to the varsity was Angello. After being called up for a match as a freshman, she exploded on the scene with her powerful spikes and jump serves. She smashed a team-high 92 aces, was second on the team with 267 kills and 79 solo blocks and also had a .480 hitting percentage.
"She is the only sophomore named to that All-League team," Slater said. "That is a huge credit to Lisa, and that tells you what caliber athlete she is."
Perhaps the most exciting thing for Slater is the fact that three of the first-teamers will be returning next year. Among them are All-State honorees Bates and Lang. That means that although next season is nine months away, expectations already are high.
"The thing about that is you set the bar high, and then you really have to work extra hard when you come in because the expectations are there," she said. "You can't slack off a bit. You can't go on last year and what you did last year, because people will be out to knock you off right from the get-go."