DENVER — In their first trip to state, the Lyons volleyball players knew they were in for an exciting time. They just didn’t know quite how exciting it would be.
The seventh-seeded Lions got their money’s worth in Friday’s first pool play match alone, winning a five-setter 26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 26-28, 15-6 over 11th-seeded Colorado Springs School.
“We were just excited to be down here,” senior outside hitter Madeline Keen said. “We haven’t been down here in 25 years so we pushed from the beginning and we would get nervous wanting to finish. I’m just happy that we pulled it out and got the win.”
The Lions won state titles in 1977, 1982 and 1986 but haven’t been back to the state tournament during any current player’s lifetime.
In their long-awaited return, the Lions found themselves in a pressure-packed affair. Friday’s five-set match went into overtime twice, was tied at 24-24 in Game 1, 22-22 in Game 2 and 26-26 in Game 4.
Despite leading her team throughout the match, Keen’s own errant attack capped a Kodiaks comeback in Game 4 and forced a fifth set. But she had to let it slide.
“I hit that one like 500 feet out and I could have shut down but I didn’t. None of us did,” Keen said. “We’ve tried to focus on the next play all year and that’s what kept us in it because if you focus on the next game, then you’re mentally focused on that and not what just happened.”
Keen said this year’s Lions played like they had nothing to lose, which is when they’re at their best.
Keen led the Lions with 13 kills. He sophomore sister Meagan Keen and sophomore Erika Ivkov each had nine. Junior setter Sydney Stevelinck led the Lions with 25 assists and sophomore Jessica Boxrud added 12 despite rolling her ankle in Game 1 and hitting the floor hard later in the match.
“Our team we had our ups and downs but we kept it up,” Boxrud said. “Like me, they just kept picking me back up and telling me good job and getting me back into the game.”
The Lions will face a tougher challenge in the second-seeded Lions from Lutheran High. The Lutheran Lions (23-2) also defeated the Kodiaks on Friday, 25-15, 25-17, 26-24, 25-18.
Lyons and Lutheran will be the fourth in Class 2A to take the court on Saturday. Matches begin at 8 a.m.
“They didn’t quit, they didn’t crack and that’s what we ask them to do,” Lyons head coach Jeff Klipstein said. “We really believe that we are one of the best teams in 2A and we can compete for a state title. People will probably see us as underdogs against Lutheran but that’s fine. As long as they keep fighting, that’s all we can ask of them.”
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Lyons 3, Colorado Springs School 2
At Denver Coliseum
Colorado Springs School (23-4) 24 25 23 28 6
Lyons (17-9) 26 22 25 26 15
Kills — Colorado Springs School: Mason 22, Baucom 9; Lyons: Ma. Keen 13, Me. Keen 9, Ivkov 9, Stevelinck 6, Christiansen.
Blocks — Colorado Springs School: Baucom 4; Lyons: Me. Keen 5, Stevelinck.
Assists — Colorado Springs School: Moore 34; Lyons: Stevelinck 25, Boxrud 12, Maguire.
Aces — Colorado Springs School: Moore 4, Mansour 3; Lyons: Ma. Keen 4, Stevelnick 2, Me. Keen.
Digs — Colorado Springs School: Morley 39; Lyons: Stevelinck 31, Me. Keen 19, Boxrud 15, Ma. Keen 11, Christiansen 8, Ivkov 6, Roth 4.