Lions place fourth at state volleyball
Topeka The fourth-place medals that dangled from the necks of Lansing High's volleyball players Saturday afternoon bore deep significance.
At present, the medals represent just how great of a season the Lions had while posting a 40-5 record and placing fourth at the Class 5A state tournament.
But there's also the element of the future that those same medals hint at. Seven of the 12 Lions on the state team will be back, and those seven left the Kansas Expocentre with a bit of satisfaction, a bit of disappointment and serious expectations about making another postseason push next season.
"We made it so far and we played so well," junior Julia Bates said. "Even though we didn't get first, it was still a pretty good outcome for the whole season."
After advancing from pool play on Friday by going 2-1, Lansing dropped a 25-12, 25-15 decision to Bishop Miege on Saturday morning in the semifinals and then lost to Newton, 25-21, 25-21, in the third-place match.
LHS faced a tall task in No. 1-ranked Bishop Miege - the eventual state runner-up after it lost to rival St. Thomas Aquinas in the finals, 25-22, 25-22. Miege hadn't lost to an in-state opponent all season, but the Lions hung around early in game one and trailed just 8-6 at one point. After the Stags opened up a 12-point lead, the Lions countered with a 4-0 run and were clawing back when senior captain Kristen Jensen dove head-first into the scorer's table trying to keep a ball alive.
Jensen received a large cut on the back of her head, and after eight minutes of medical treatment she walked under her own power to a waiting ambulance that whisked her away to the hospital for stitches.
Even with Jensen out of the lineup, the Lions battled tough, but the Stags simply had too much firepower.
"I've never been more proud of my team : any team ever : because I've never had anything like that (Jensen's injury) happen," LHS coach Julie Slater said. "That was just pretty devastating."
LHS played Newton much better in the consolation match than when the teams met Friday in pool play, but the Railers' tall front row hitters proved to be effective consistently throughout the match.
Jensen returned from the hospital and spent the final minutes of the match on the bench with her teammates, but she was unable to return to the floor.
Lansing finished the season with four tournament titles - Lansing Invitational, Louisburg Invitational, Garnett-Anderson County Tournament, Class 5A substate tournament - an undefeated Kaw Valley League championship and a fourth-place finish at state.
For a full recap from state, pick up the Nov. 1 edition of The Current.