Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wristen: Hello Kansas, Lansing High volleyball is back

September 13, 2007

For all those who thought the Lansing High volleyball program's glory days were behind it, think again.

Got questions? Track down some game film from the Lions' performance Saturday at the Lansing Invitational.

You will be convinced.

Trust me.

Yes, the former Class 4A powerhouse Lions have operated a bit below the radar during the past two seasons after narrowly missing out on the Class 5A state tournament, but their performance Saturday should serve as notice to teams across Kansas that Lansing volleyball is still a force to be reckoned with.

It also should serve as notice to Lansing fans that haven't had a chance to see this team in action yet: Mark your calendars. Cancel anything that conflicts on the schedule. Find a way to see this team compete. Do yourself that favor.

If you don't have time to road trip to see the Lions at 5 p.m. today at Shawnee Mission West, the No. 4-ranked team in the new Class 6A poll, be sure to see the Lions when they compete at home at 5 p.m. Tuesday or on Sept. 20.

The Lions entered the Class 5A poll at No. 4 this week after their inspired effort at the home tournament. That performance included shellackings of 6A powers Shawnee Mission North, Olathe Northwest and Shawnee Mission West - all in just two games. They returned to the gym Tuesday and waxed Bonner Springs, Spring Hill and Gardner-Edgerton in two games apiece. In fact, all 11 of the Lions' matches this season have lasted the bare minimum of two games.

Experience and balance are critical aspects of Lansing's success.

"We have eight returners this year : eight returners!" senior Kristen Jensen said. "And the two that are coming up : phenomenal players. And we have height this year. Our defense is pretty good this year. We don't have to really worry about setting because me and Julia (Bates) have got that. And our hitting is taken care of."

The biggest key, however, is that they are rabid competitors. Doesn't matter who the opponent is. Nothing is taken for granted. Whether the Lions are playing a soft team or a state power, they take care of business. Period.

That, 23rd-year LHS coach Julie Slater said, is why the Lions will do great things this year. That is also why you need to see this team play.

"As a coach, the thing that I've noticed with my great teams is self-motivation," coach Julie Slater said. "And they have it. You've got to have that desire and drive. It comes from within. It's not anything that can be taught or coached. You've got to have that. That's the key ingredient in great teams, and they have it."

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