While the Lansing High School gymnasium wasn't packed to the brim, cheers reverberated off the walls as the Lansing varsity girls volleyball team took the floor for pre-game introductions.
The Lions hosted the annual Red and White scrimmage Thursday night in front of a crowd of students, parents and fans, and while it wasn't a regular season match, it was the first time since last season that the team has played in front of a crowd.
Head coach Julie Slater said the crowd adds a certain level of anticipation for the game that pits the varsity squad against the junior varsity.
"The girls get really excited about it," Slater said. "It's the first time playing in front of people so it's exciting."
Before the varsity players took the court for their scrimmage, the junior varsity squad played against the freshman team. After beating them, the JV switched sides and competed against the varsity squad for nearly 30 minutes of non-stop volleyball.
Senior Stevie Sherard said the event is beneficial to the whole Lions program, though more so to the younger players, who are getting their first taste of what varsity competition feels like.
"It kind of shows our student body if we're getting better, how good we are," Sherard said. "And, it shows the underclassmen how we play."
In addition to building up the younger players, Sherard said the scrimmage also serves as a gauge of where the varsity squad is at currently, and what they need to work on.
"It lets us see how we work together as a team," Sherard said. "I thought we played really well together and we communicated really well."
But, with the exciting event came a downtrodden note concerning the coming season.
Earlier this week, Slater and her team learned one of the team's three seniors, Abby Hattok, would not be joining them on the court for the scrimmage and most likely for the rest of the season after suffering an injury.
Thus, the Lions will be forced to move forward without a team leader. Even so, Slater said the team is coming together nicely after watching them play in the scrimmage.
"They're working hard and I'm very pleased with them," Slater said. "I think they look good, our ball-handling and defense is just stellar. We have great setters and our hitters are doing great."
The team begins its regular season Tuesday against Piper High School.
The Lions have a good history against Piper, and Slater said she's optimistic about her team's chances during the opening match and every other match on the schedule.
Slater said her team is more consistent than it's been in the past at this point in the season and she said she's hopeful it translates well to the court.
"I think it's going to be a great season," Slater said. "I have kids that are going to give it 100 percent and give it their best shot. We'll be in probably about any match, and I keep telling them, 'If you can keep it close, anything can happen.'"