Lansing volleyball rallies behind junior's spectacular hitting performance

Lansing High junior Lacey Angello has verbally committed to the Kansas Jayhawks’ volleyball program as a defensive specialist or in modern parlance, a libero.

But, boy can the Lion hit.

Angello finished with 27 kills and only two hitting errors all Thursday night to help propel the Lions to a 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-17, 25-23) win over a tough Louisburg team in Lansing.

Angello finished with 27 kills and only two hitting errors and added 18 digs.

“Our offense was really good and I think we were strong, esepcially against their big middles and their outside,” Angello said. “We weren’t expected them to be so upbeat and their sets were a little quicker. Once the first set came, we knew what was coming and that what led us to win the rest.

“Our block needs to be stronger, other than that our defense is lightning fast.”

A key to the win was Lansing’s defense being able to extend potential terminal play by Louisburg while the Wildcats were successful, but not as prolific.

“I think we have one of the best defenses in the state,” senior Lansing libero Alex Lesniak said. “We just get everything up and don’t let anything hit the ground. Lacey is the queen of (getting wild digs right to the setter) and it’s just instinct to go for it.”

Lesniak finished with 18 digs and sophomore Kennedy Farris added 12 digs.

“We hang our hat on our defense and we played terrible defense the first set, but the rest of the match I thought our defense was pretty solid,” Lansing head coach Julie Slater said. “We didn’t let too many balls hit after that.”

Louisburg rolled out to an early five-point lead in the first set and would be able to hold the momentum despite a few Lansing attempts to rally to take the 1-0 match advantage.

In the second set the Lions roared out to a big lead themselves and saw the advantage bulk up to 20-12 with a number of kills coming from a variety of contributors.

Lesniak served out five straight points during the tail-end of the set to cement the match tie.

Lansing rolled out to another late, big lead in the third set thanks to kills by freshman McKinzie Weaver and junior Rachel Fairbanks.

Louisburg came out determined to extend the match to a fifth set, thanks in large part to stellar sophomore OH Anna Dixon who kept the Lions’ defense on its toes all night.

“Everything was fast and all over the place so it was hard to reach sometimes,” Lesniak said.

“That hitter they have (Dixon) is...” Slater said. “She’s only a sophomore? Holy cow...she’s unbelievable. It took us some time to adjust to what they were doing. The blocked really well.

“These tough matches are what we wanted, because they make us better in having to figure out and adjust. It makes us better.”

The Wildcats built a 16-10 lead, before Lansing and Angello said enough was enough.

The lead was trimmed to 18-16 on two scoring hits by junior Lion Katrin Holden.

Louisburg’s last moment of brilliance came on a fantastic rally win at 19-17, but then it was all Lansing.

Junior setter Courtney Rexroat’s (49 assists) ace gave Lansing the lead at 20-19 and Angello wrapped things up with three, straight kills, including a quarter-pounder to give the team the deciding 25th and match point.

Lansing hosts their own invitational on Saturday with matches starting with pool play at 9 a.m.

The semifinals begin at 2:30 p.m.