Lansing, LVHS head to Topeka, while Bobcats go to Salina
Lansing and Leavenworth high schools will make the short trip to the Topeka Expocentre for the 2017 Class 5A state tournament beginning Friday. They took completely opposite routes to the final weekend of the season.
Lansing (31-6), with five NCAA DI recruits on the roster, has toiled in the spotlight of the state scene for years and especially this one as the Lions may have the most talented bunch in head coach Julie Slater’s legendary tenure.
They got to Topeka via two, two-set wins last weekend at Leavenworth High’s sub-state tournament, including a spine-tingling 25-21, 25-15 win over a talented Topeka Seaman squad. Lansing outscored Seaman 34-16 over the last 50 points in arguably the Lions’ most impressive run of play all season.
“This has been our goal from the beginning, one that we believed we could achieve,” Slater said of the team making it back to Topeka. “We feel like we got a good draw. All the teams are good however when you get there. Now we have to go and compete.”
For all of Lansing’s state tournament trips under Slater, they have never won the 5A crown. That could change this weekend.
“We believe we can advance to Saturday and then are capable of winning,” Slater said. “Everyone has to compete at the highest level to win. It took hard work and determination.”
For Leavenworth, it is the first state tournament appearance since a run of three straight from 1996-1998.
“I'm extremely proud of this group of girls,” LVHS head coach Cassandra Rockers said. “We play a pretty tough schedule and their commitment and enthusiasm has never wavered. Regardless of opinions, thoughts and negative comments, they put in the work and earned their spot.”
The Pioneers also won two straight 2-0 matches last weekend to get to Topeka, playing calm, cool volleyball. They proved that their 14-24 record was a product of a tough schedule that prepared them for the moment.
On Friday, Lansing plays No. 5 Andover at 8:30 a.m. and No. 1 Goddard at 1:30 p.m. while LVHS battles Goddard at 9:30 a.m. and Andover at 12:30 p.m.
“We play tough competition on Friday,” Rockers said. “Our outlook all week has been focused on all teams entering state with a 0-0 record. We are prepared to play our game with heart, pride and determination to prove a point. The expectation that we have set is to play with max effort 100 percent of the time. The girls are determined to step out on the court and leave everything they have. No regrets.
“Our team chemistry is undeniable this year. These girls have such a unique bond. They are all extremely passionate about the game of volleyball and they love playing together. They are a family. We are a family.”
Lansing and Leavenworth will meet at 10:30 a.m. With that match guaranteeing one area team a win, the winner of that match would only need to split the remaining two matches to give itself a golden opportunity to get to the semifinals on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Basehor-Linwood in Salina
After a dominant performance in the sub-state final at Atchison, the Basehor-Linwood Bobcats will take their 22-14 record to Salina for a shot at the biggest trophy available.
The Bobcats will open play Friday as the No. 5 seed against No. 4 Louisburg at 8:30 a.m. before playing No. 1 Rose Hill at 11:30 a.m. and Bishop Miege at 12:30 p.m.
Rose Hill is the defending state champion.
The semifinals tip off Saturday at 10 a.m.
“The accomplishment is huge,” BLHS head coach Amy Irvin said. “It was one of our goals this year and I knew this team was special. They are a close-knit group of girls who don't let drama get in the way of things. They play hard and play for each other.”
Irvin believes her team has a good shot against the competition in the Bobcats’ pool.
“I feel that we stack up well,” Irvin said. “We have played Louisburg and have defeated them two times this year, so we know we can. We have Miege and Rose Hill as well and feel really good about playing them. Right now, everyone is 0-0 and everyone is going to come to win, including us.
“Our goal is to definitely place in the top three. We are going to continue to play our game and play for each other and great things will happen. Our expectation is to play hard with no regrets, to leave everything on the court each game.”
The Bobcats are a battle-tested group. The team formed a strong unity that helped them push through all of the challenges.
“We got here by playing for each other,” Irvin said. “This team is one of the most mentally tough teams that I have coached. They have tremendous skill and talent, yet they don't give up or give in. They play hard and have fun being together. We set goals for the season at the beginning and this was definitely at the top of the list. We truly are a family away from home.”