New coach, no problem: Lansing continues winning ways under new leadership

Jason Brown
Shown is the Lansing Lady Lions varsity volleyball team.

A lot has changed for Lansing volleyball since its third-place finish at the Kansas 5A state championship last season. Former head coach Julie Slater – Kansas’ second-winningest volleyball coach – announced her retirement, paving the way for Lindsay Zych to take her first high school head coaching job. A number of seniors graduated and moved on to play college volleyball at multiple levels as well leaving plenty of room for underclassmen and incoming seniors to step up.

Zych served as Lansing’s varsity assistant last season and previously served as an assistant coach at Bishop Miege as well as working with Kansas’ winningest volleyball coach, Gwen Pike, as a coach on the KC Power volleyball team. Zych also played under Pike for her entire high school career at Miege before playing in college at the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

She said he opportunity to work under Slater at Lansing was too good to pass up.

“I am so honored to be hired as the head coach at Lansing High School after coach Slater left such a huge mark on the program, the community and the sport of volleyball in the state of Kansas,” Zych said. “These are some pretty big shoes to fill, but I hope I continue to make her proud with the future of this successful program.”

The Lady Lions haven’t missed a beat in their first nine matches after an offseason of change that was also mired by COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty. A 9-0 start has seen Lansing surrender just five sets of the 26 played and pick up a home tournament win. The pandemic caused the Lady Lions to miss their scheduled camp at the University of Kansas as well as the 10-team varsity and junior varsity tournament they were slated to host this summer. Their season opening matchup in the Spectrum Slam against Olathe Northwest was also nixed due to health concerns.

Zych said returning starter Caitlin Bishop picked up where she left off last season and has led the team’s offense early in the season.

“Being the experienced high level setter that she is,” Zych said, “we are blessed to have her running our offense. She has an extremely high level volleyball IQ, as a coach I can trust her to run our offense and change what is needed to help dictate the game.”

The Lady Lions have also received contributions from a number of underclassmen including Skylar Weaver, Kamryn Farris, Olivia Van Der Werff and McKenzie Moburg.

“She (Farris) has such a competitive drive that it inspires everyone around her,” Zych said. “When she is on the court, our level of play is heightened. Kamryn has dug some impressive hits from talented opponents and keeps such a calm composure during high intensity games. When the pressure is on, Kamryn can get us one dig that sparks our momentum into winning the game.”

Zych said despite working through a different offseason the Lady Lions have been determined to compete.

“Our team talks daily about our goals of being an aggressive serving team,” she said, “and being in system on serve receive. We have some high quality players in the back row for us who continue to keep us in system, and frustrate the opposing team because they pick every ball up.”

Beyond the early success the team has experienced this season, Zych said she is excited for the future of leading the Lansing volleyball program.

“We want our players to be passionate about the game, eager to learn new things and aspects of the game, being coachable players and adapting to change when necessary,” she said. “We see many fierce competitors on some very talented teams throughout our season, we continue to be versatile and rise to the occasion. Our goals of the future is to continue to make an appearance at the state tournament, specifically day two of the tournament, hoping to end up in the championship match, and coming out with a win.”