Lady Lions move past disappointing Aquinas match with another challenge coming up

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Shown is the Lansing varsity volleyball team following a drill at practice.

Lansing volleyball's season opener certainly did not go as planned.

The Lady Lions' state title rematch with Saint Thomas Aquinas Aug. 28 at the Spectrum Sports Slam saw the Saints grab a two-set win (25-17, 25-15).

"I think we were ready, we really prepared in practice," head coach Lindsay Zych said. "But when the lights came on, we were not to the standard that we wanted to be at the beginning. So we kind of got into a rut at the beginning of each game."

Aquinas was able to build solid leads in both games and prevented Lansing from stringing enough points together to mount a comeback. 

"They didn't have a lot of holes open on the other side," Zych said. "So it was kind of hard for us to put the ball away and string the points together."

Shown is Lansing senior setter Caitlin Bishop preparing to set a ball during a recent practice.

Senior setter Caitlin Bishop said losing the match was a tough pill to swallow but she and her teammates are only looking forward.

"The game obviously didn't go the way we wanted it to," Bishop said, "but we're going to learn from our mistakes and look forward to seeing them again at state."

Zych said the loss was definitely eye-opening for a team that returned nine starters from last season's state runner-up squad. She said the team had multiple meetings following the match and came into the next week of practice with a goal to be stronger mentally. 

"It was the best practice we've had," Zych said of the first practice following the loss. "So it kind of lit a fire under all of our butts to get us going."

Lansing senior outside hitter Olivia Mae Van Der Werff hits a ball during a practice drill.

It's a good thing because Lansing will face a similarly tough test Thursday when it faces another state champion team in Bishop Miege. The Class 4A Lady Stags were defeated by the Lady Lions early last season, only to go on to win the program's 27th state title. 

The match has even more importance as Zych and her assistant coach Gabby Royal both graduated from Miege, winning multiple state championships under head coach Gwen Pike - the winningest coach in Kansas high school volleyball history.

"That's another game that's super exciting for us," senior libero Kamryn Farris said of facing Miege, "lots of energy. We all want to go out and play our best to win that game for them."

If the mental bounce back wasn't enough for the Lady Lions, they got back on the court Thursday for a three-set sweep of Seaman (25-22, 25-14, 25-18), leaving no doubt they had put the opening loss behind them. Van Der Werff and Iyannah Jackson combined for 26 kills to lead the team. Farris had the team-lead in digs with 17, followed by Bishop with eight. 

The match between Lansing and Bishop Miege is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lansing High School.