The 2018 Lansing Lions volleyball team will go down as one of the best teams in school history.
“Definitely top two,” head coach Julie Slater said.
The Lions wrapped their season up with a 25-22 and 25-21 victory over Bishop Carroll in the 5A consolation match to secure the third-place finish at the state tournament. The victory gave the Lions their 39th win of the season to finish the year 39-6.
Slater was asked to describe the year in a sentence.
“We had an incredible season from start to finish,” Slater said. “Great players and magical chemistry.”
The Lions started the season strong with a win over eventual state runner-up St. Thomas Aquinas. Lansing would go on to win their first 13 games before falling to Seaman on Sept. 8.
Slater said she was happy with how the team responded after their first loss. The team continued their strong response for the rest of the regular season. The team won the first United Kansas Conference title for volleyball with an undefeated league record and would go 19-3 over the next 22 games before heading into sub-state, where the Lions clinched the top seed on their side of 5A. The Lions would get past Blue Valley West and Pittsburg to clinch a spot in the state tournament.
Lansing would enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed where they faced Newton, Aquinas and Andover. The team got past Newton 25-18 and 25-19 but fell to Aquinas 25-16 and 25-22. The Lions bounced back and beat Andover 25-15 and 25-18 to advance to the semifinals on Saturday. The Lions would face St. James Academy and fell 25-20 in the first set. After finding themselves down 8-1, the Lions would storm back and take the second set before falling in a thrilling third set to drop down to the consolation game against Bishop Carroll.
Slater was asked her favorite memory of the season and she said it was winning the Seaman tournament. Slater and Taylor Lang both said it was their best match the team played when interviewed prior to sub-state.
“I think our best game of the season would be Seaman,” Lang said in early October. “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 also had high praise for the thriller against St. James in the semifinals last week. She said it was one of the best games she has ever been a part of after Saturday’s matches.
She said the players that improved the most this season were Lang, Bradi Basler and Miranda Karpierz.
“I think Bradi Basler was a huge impact this year as an offensive weapon,” Slater said. “And Taylor Lang was incredible in the back row. Miranda Karpierz also was a good blocker for us.”
The three improved players join Kennedy Farris and Rachel Fairbanks as a strong senior class leaving the program. Slater said the girls played an important role in the team’s success.
“These five seniors were great leaders,” Slater said. “And just such positive people to be around. Each one of them played such an important part in the success of the team.”
Slater said those will be big voids to fill, but the seven returners will help lead the charge.
“We have seven returning but have big voids to fill,” Slater said. Karli (Schmidt), Amelia (Van Der Werff), Sam (Moburg), Jill (Carlson), and McKinzie (Weaver) will lead the charge as seniors. Kamryn (Farris) and Caitlin (Bishop) will step up as sophomores. All have good state experience to build on.”