Julie Slater has been coaching Lansing’s volleyball team for more than 30 years and the 2018 Lions are one of the best that she has coached. 

“Definitely in the top three,” Slater said.

The Lions were 30-4 going into Thursday’s triangular against Shawnee Mission Northwest and Shawnee Mission West. They won the conference title and are ranked in the top 10 in 5A. 

Kennedy Farris, Rachel Fairbanks and Karli Schmidt are committed to playing Division I volleyball – seniors Farris at Missouri State and Fairbanks at Nebraska-Omaha and junior Schmidt at Kansas.

Farris and Slater both had the same response on what has helped the team in their success this season.

“I think our team chemistry has helped us come together and be such a good team,” Farris said. “Every single person loves each other and that is a big part about volleyball. That really helps us.” 

Slater had a similar response.

“Team chemistry has been huge,” Slater said. “They really get along great and they’re all very skilled.” 

Along with team chemistry, Slater also has said since the summer that depth was a big strength of the team, as well as the strong leadership from her six seniors. This year’s seniors are Farris, Fairbanks, Taylor Lang, Sydney Hayles, Miranda Karpierz and Bradi Basler.

With the regular season coming to a close, the team will look to sub-state and prepare to compete for a state title. Slater said mental toughness will be key to continue the success.

“It’s totally going to be mental toughness,” Slater said. “We certainly have loads of talent, but we have to be more mentally tough. That’s broken down in your losses. We’ve only lost four, but that’s broken down in those four losses. That happens at every sport in every level, I get that, but you just have to face adversity and learn how to deal with it and move forward.”

Fairbanks said staying calm and focused will be big for the team.

“I think a key for sub-state is just us staying focused,” Fairbanks said. “And playing calm. When we play calm, there is nothing that will stop us.”

The seniors agreed that their best match of the season came in the tournament championship at Seaman. 

“I think our best game of the season would be Seaman,” Lang said. “We had a lot of energy. We played our game. We played the whole game. It was good competition and we beat them on their home court.”

Slater agreed with the girls.

“Seaman played good too,” Slater said. “So intensity-wise, it would have been that.”

With the six seniors leaving, the future still looks bright for the Lions. Slater had high praises for her freshmen and junior varsity teams who are also playing strong like the varsity.

The seniors agreed that the tradition, leadership and team dinners will allow the program to stay successful in the future.