In about a month’s span last year, the story of the Lyons volleyball team went from heartbreaking to heartwarming.
In 2014, the Lions hope there doesn’t have to be any sentimental value toward a run at the state tournament.
Glad to have their gym back after the floods of September 2013 made them vagabonds for the remainder of the season, LHS has a core of returning players that are anticipating a return trip to the Denver Coliseum — less than a dozen months since their first appearance at state in 24 years.
“There are definitely more expectations on us, and I think we’re prepared for it,” senior setter Sydney Stevelinck. “This year, I think we have a really good chance of making (state), especially if we work as a team. We have so much to look forward to.”
Outside influences are unpredictable. (Surely weather couldn’t rattle the season again, right?) For the Lions, the hope is to be able to focus solely on volleyball and the change to the Mile High League from the Patriot League.
No doubt, last year’s journey helped formulate a tightly-knit group, one that showed chemistry at the end of the year. Most of the team returns with the desire to write an even better story.
“We got pretty close and it was good to get to know everyone on the team so much,” senior libero Mikayla Roth said. “It would be great to add to the (state championship) banner.”
Coaches around the state are taking notice of the talent, with Lyons coming in ranked second in 2A in the CHSAAnow.com preseason poll. While Stevelinck and Roth provide leadership and ability, the bulk of the talent comes from the junior class that exploded on the scene last year.
Meagan Keen was the team’s leading attacker in 2013, totaling 197 kills. Erika Ivkov also showed versatility, and Ashlyn Christiansen was a steady hitter, too. Jessica Boxrud helped in the 6-2 offense as a setter — a system the Lions will retain with Maddie Maguire, a sophomore, expected to contribute to as well.
“We play club together, too, so we play with each other year round and that helps so much coming into the school season,” Stevelinck said. “We know how each of us plays, and we know what we need to do to change things when we need to.”
“We need to maintain a high level, but I think we have a good chance of doing that,” added Boxrud. “Erika, Meagan and Ashlyn … I have grown up with them and I just see them constantly putting in the work and dedication. They are good at encouraging me, too.”
Lyons should immediately contend for a league title, one which overall is weaker from top-to-bottom than the Patriot League was. However, Resurrection Christian returns to the MHL as the defending 2A state champs.
The Lions won’t be intimidated with the expectations placed on them.
“We’re glad to be back on our court,” Roth said. “Our juniors are so good and I have a lot of confidence in them. I think we definitely have a chance to get back to state.”
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