Stout STA defense denies Lansing title shot

A young, talented and memorable Lansing High volleyball team ended the 2017 campaign with a bigger sense of integrity and personal pride than any trophy it would have brought home from the Class 5A state semifinals this weekend in Topeka.

On Saturday, the Lions wrapped its season with its highest finish since 2010, taking third place with an emphatic 2-0 (25-17, 25-11) win over Goodard to end the campaign at 37-7.

“I am so thrilled with that,” Lansing head coach Julie Slater said. “That third-place match is such a tough match to play. I am thrilled with how they responded. We had an opportunity to win the last match and get third place and it was their choice to pound them.”

Before that, the Lions lost a 2-0 (25-18, 25-15) decision to St. Thomas Aquinas who used an exceptional performance in the block and back row to pull away.

“We didn’t play well in the semifinals and we knew it, and that hurt,” Slater said. “We don’t have an answer to why we didn’t play well. (STA) played great and we didn’t. We didn’t play the defense we normally play. I don’t know. “

The Saints came out with a strong block, getting touch on most Lansing hitting attempts and then the back row would either clean up those redirections or readily sweep up what the frontline missed en route to a 25-18 set one victory.

It wasn’t for a lack of Lansing trying, it was just STA playing as well as it could to take early control of the match.

The second set saw more of the same as the Saints’ defensive effort was superlative once again and it didn’t help that Lansing lost a half-dozen momentum points on a ref’s decision without the ball hitting the floor.

None such calls were made against St. Thomas Aquinas’ favor.

Regardless, the STA transition game and block were huge components in their victory.

The loss may have stung and ended the state title hopes of senior stalwart Lacey Angello and her classmate, setter Courtney Rexroat, but it didn’t diminish the special journey both girls took part in.

“I feel like we could have done better the first game, but we can’t look at it light that and have to take things one game at a time,” Angello said. “We played well the last game because we weren’t going out of here with a loss. Me and Courtney pushed the team to finish how we wanted it to. (In the semifinal) it was more us and we beat ourselves. They didn’t do anything that we’d never seen before.

“This year was really fun, I met a lot of new people, we bonded really well and this was the most fun year we’ve ever had. Being a senior is awesome. The program is awesome. I’m going to miss this a lot. It’s exactly what I thought it was going to be. It just didn’t end the way I wanted it to.”