The 2018 Lansing Lions volleyball fought all year long and while the team fell just short of their goal, the season will be one to remember.
The Lions entered the 5A state tournament as the No. 2 seed after a year that head coach Julie Slater described as one of the best she’s ever coached prior to their win at sub-state.
The Lions began the tournament on Friday in pool play. Against Newton, the Lions win 25-18 and 25-19 to take the first game of the tournament.
Rachel Fairbanks led the team with nine kills, Karli Schmidt added eight, Bradi Basler had seven, Amelia Van Der Werff had five and Sam Moburg had one.
Miranda Karpierz had two solo blocks. Van Der Werff had one. Taylor Lang led the team with 14 digs. Kennedy Farris added nine of her own. Kamryn Farris had four, Schmidt and Caitlin Bishop had two each and Moburg, Fairbanks, Jill Carlson and Mckinzie Weaver had one. Schmidt had four aces. Bishop had 14 assists, Weaver had 11 and Kennedy Farris had two.
The Lions would fall in their next game to St. Thomas Aquinas 25-16 and 25-22. Schmidt led the team in kills again with six. Fairbanks and Van Der Werff both had five, while Moburg and Basler each had three. Van Der Werff added two more solo blocks and Karpierz had one. Kennedy Farris led the team with 14 digs. Schmidt and Weaver tied for second with eight. Moburg and Lang had five. Bishop had four, Carlson and Kamryn Farris had three and Van Der Werff had one. Lang and Fairbanks added an ace each. Weaver and Bishop led the team with eight assists each and Kennedy Farris added seven more.
The Lions entered their final game Friday night needing a win to advance to Saturday’s semi-finals. Lansing beat Andover 25-15 and 25-18 to secure the runner-up in pool play and advanced.
Schmidt again led the team in kills, this time she co-led with Van Der Werff with both having seven. Basler had five and Fairbanks and Moburg each had one. Karpierz and Van Der Werff each had three solo blocks. Schmidt and Fairbanks had two each. Kennedy Farris and Lang led the team in digs and Weaver was the assist leader.
The 2-1 Friday record advanced the Lions to face St. James on Saturday.
The Lions saw success early in the first set, but St. James started to separate. Lansing would continue to fight back, but it was not enough and Lansing fell 25-20.
St. James continued the momentum of the second set and quickly jumped out to an 8-1 lead. Lansing would take over the momentum and began to control the second set. The Lions would take the set 25-19 following a 24-11 run to force a winner-take-all third set. St. James would take an early lead, but the Lions would continue the momentum from set two and took a 10-5 lead early. St. James would slowly come back and tie the game 14-14, from then on it was a back and forth game until St. James would pull away 25-23.
Schmidt continued the trend and again led the team in kills with 14 against St. James. Fairbanks had eight, Moburg had six, Van Der Werff with five and Basler with two. Fairbanks and Van Der Werff each had six solo blocks. Schmidt and Moburg had two. Kennedy Farris and Schmidt each had 23 digs, Lang had 15, Carlson had 13, Moburg and Bishop had 10, Weaver with six, Basler with four, Van Der Werff had three and Kamryn Farris and Fairbanks had two. Bishop accumulated 16 assists with weaver having 14 and Kennedy Farris with three.
The loss knocked out Lansing from title contention and they fell to the third-place game against Bishop Carroll.
Despite the loss, Slater said it was one of the best volleyball matches she’s ever been part of.
“I thought it was an amazing match,” Slater said. “It was probably the most amazing match I’ve ever been part of. My team gave us everything they had. Just came up a little short. You can’t ask for more than that. Nothing but proud of them.”
Slater said it was “amazing” to see the team bounce back in the second and third sets.
“That was just so amazing,” Slater said. “We talked about how we had to stay in system. We came out of system, which means we were not passing well and could not get our offense going. After that, we stayed in system and kapow! They just responded to everything we said, tried everything we told them to do and gave them everything they had.”
After the loss to St. James, Slater told the girls to focus on the wonderful season that they had and that they had an amazing season filled with memories and that they were blessed to get one more chance to win.
“They have a special bond,” Slater said. “They’re a special group.”
The Lions came out against Bishop Carroll looking for the third-place finish. The two schools started off close, but Lansing began to pull away. Bishop Carroll would fight back to tie it at 16, but Lansing continued to push and took the first set 25-22. The second set started out back and forth again before Lansing pulled away again to win 25-21 and secure the consolation game win.
Fairbanks was the leader in kills against Bishop Carroll with 13. Schmidt had nine, Moburg had five, Van Der Werff had four with Basler and Karpierz each having one. Fairbanks, Van Der Werff and Schmidt each had a solo block. Kennedy Farris led the team in digs again with 24. Lang added 23, Weaver and Kamryn Farris had nine, Moburg had seven, Carlson had four, Schmidt had three, Basler, Bishop and Fairbanks each had two and Karpierz added one. Schmidt added three aces. Kennedy Farris had two and Weaver had one. Weaver led the team in assists with 14. Bishop had 11, Kennedy Farris added three and Carlson had one.
Slater said after the win it was frustrating to fall short, but the Lions continue to remain close to getting a title.
“We’re knocking on the door,” Slater said. “One of these days we are going to knock it down. We were hoping it was going to be this year. We wanted to be (on the court for the finals match). But I am proud of them for winning (the consolation game) because that is one of the toughest things they’ll ever endure.”
The Lions finished the season 39-6.