LAFAYETTE — Over the past 12 days, the Lyons volleyball team has been vigorously tested with an array of opponents that included the defending Class 2A champions and a Yuma team who gave aforementioned Dayspring Christian a run for its money in the title match last November at the Denver Coliseum.
The results have shown the Lions are right in that conversation as title contenders in 2017 — although with quite a ways to go yet. Tough enough is winning the Mile High League title, and on Tuesday night at Dawson School the Lions faced an upstart Mustangs team that came in sitting atop the league standings in Carisa Kessler's second year as coach.
Gaining leads in both of the first two sets, Dawson showed it is on the brink of taking that next step, but the calm and collected approach of Lyons played into a 3-0 LHS sweep to give Dawson its first league loss.
The late stages of the first two games belonged to Lyons, and then LHS got off to a big lead in the third game for a 25-19, 25-22, 25-16 sweep to improve to 10-4 overall and 6-1 in league
Coming off a five-set loss against No. 1 ranked Yuma on Friday, Lyons' Taylor Maguire said she felt the team was able to breathe a lot easier this time around when faced with the deficits Dawson (8-2, 5-1) was able to gain.
"Coming from Yuma, it just felt good to come out and play where not every point was just so stressful," Maguire said after the Lions avoided going five sets for just the second time in the past six matches. "It was fun to get back out and make plays that we wouldn't usually make and just take some chances, too."
Dawson, which won 11 matches last year in Kessler's first campaign, played at a quality pace and the defense initially was up to the challenge of facing Lyons' top hitters, Maguire and Ixchel Leeuwenburgh.
But the speed with which Lyons can play is something that can't be replicated in practice, nor has it often been among the other teams the Mustangs have faced. The block for Dawson slowed a bit, and that put pressure on the back row to keep rallies going as the LHS attack was seeing its most success trying to close out each set.
Lyons had five kills in a 10-point stretch to finish set one after Dawson led 16-15 late, and the Lions again went from a 15-15 score to 24-18 in set two behind five kills.
In what proved to be the final set, Lyons secured an impressive 15 kills.
Maguire paced all players with 14 kills and Leeuwenburgh added 10 for Lyons, which also got a big boost from Hayley Karsel and Sarah Hall among others.
"It was when they had the leads that we'd say, 'OK, let's make smart plays and get the ball back, get a lead,'" Maguire said. "I felt good about our attack, and excited for more games to come."
Dawson, whose only other loss is to 3A Prospect Ridge Academy, was led by Elizabeth Porrey's 10 kills and Stella Bristol's eight. Porrey had a solid night overall with 22 digs and three service aces. Nicole Scribner, a freshman, added 14 digs and two aces.
"It's stamina, and we just have a hard time re-creating this level of play early on in our season and so coming from some slower games you really have to focus mentally," Kessler said. "We just have to stay strong and grow. Playing this caliber of team is going to help us more than any drill we can throw at them.
"Our defense did a good job and were scrappy, but when we hit a wall there was no more scrappiness."
Lyons 3, Dawson School 0
At Dawson SchoolLyons (10-4, 6-1)252525Dawson School (8-2, 5-1)192216
Kills — Lyons: Taylor Maguire 14, Ixchel Leeuwenburgh 10; Dawson: Elizabeth Porrey 10, Stella Bristol 8.
Blocks — Lyons: Sarah Hall 2, Leeuwenburgh 2; Dawson: Porrey 1, Liv Cramer 1.
Assists — Lyons: Kylen Christiansen 38; Dawson: Angelina Sala 16, Kiera Porrey 12.
Aces — Lyons: Maguire 2, Sarah Stevelinck 2; Dawson: E. Porrey 3, Nicole Scribner 2.
Digs — Lyons: Stevelinck 21, Christiansen 14; Dawson: E. Porrey 22, Scribner 14.