Lions send seniors out in style
Lansing High volleyball coach Julie Slater has spent 23 years turning the "Senior Night tear-jerker" into an art form.
Tuesday night was no different as LHS seniors Morgan Chiles, Erin Griffen, Kristen Jensen, Sara Logan and Katie Nietzke were honored for their four years of service to the program during a home triangular with Perry-Lecompton and Basehor-Linwood.
Assistant coach Amy Turner read a letter of memories penned by Slater as the head coach and her smiling seniors dabbed away tears.
The senior song, the Rascal Flatts hit "My Wish," was played and a hug-fest ensued.
A line from the song's refrain - "your dreams stay big, your worries stay small" - summed up the Lions' evening in a number of ways. By winning both matches, they took the first steps toward achieving their dream of winning a Kaw Valley League championship. Meanwhile, their worries were relatively small as they pounded Perry, 25-5, 25-12, and then disposed of Basehor, 27-25, 25-7.
In the end, it was the feel-good night that the seniors had hoped for.
"We've all known Slater for a really long time, and the girls : we've been together for a long time," Jensen said. "It's going to be tough leaving them, for sure, and it just makes you cry when you hug 'em because you know this isn't going to last forever."
Tuesday's matches didn't last long. The first win came without a hitch. LHS dominated Perry as expected. Slater didn't allow sophomore Lisa Angello to use her overpowering jump serve in the match, so junior Julia Bates picked up the slack with five aces of her own in game one. The Lions shared the wealth on offense throughout the match as Angello slammed seven kills, Brittney Lang had six, Bates and Rachel Milnark had four apiece, Logan had three and Griffen added two.
The Basehor match proved to be tougher - at least for one game. The Bobcats sought revenge after falling to the Lions two weeks ago at the Lansing Invitational, and for a while it looked like an upset was in store. Basehor erased an 18-11 deficit in game one and tied the match at 25-all before Lang and Bates pounded kills to squash the threat.
After that, the Bobcats were deflated in game two while the Lions caught fire. They opened on a 16-5 run and never looked back.
Slater said she was proud to see her team battle back and win the match, especially considering it was Senior Night.
"The whole Senior Night thing is usually emotional," she said. "I like to get out with two wins, and I don't worry about the rest."
Lansing plays host to Immaculata, Jeff West and Pleasant Ridge at 5 p.m. today.