LISBON – The Lisbon volleyball team was in a big hurry last night.
The Class 1A Lions were in a hurry to score points, in a hurry to win sets and in a hurry to dispatch Midland and advance in the Regional playoffs.
And in just 60 dominating minutes, Lisbon (25-7) did just that, sweeping Midland (16-13), 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-16).
“I just challenged them to play well,” said Lisbon Coach Lance Kamaus. “We told them, ‘You have to give extraordinary effort at this time of the season.’ That’s just the way that it works.
“We’ve kind of prided ourselves in playing really well when Regional play comes around. And I think they understand the effort it takes to do that.”
The Lions didn’t have the fastest start to the match, however. On several occasions in the first set, Lisbon saw its players out of position, leading directly to points for Midland.
But around the midway point of that first set, the Lions turned up the proverbial wick and got those effort plays that Kamaus so adamantly urged his players to make.
Then, after running away with the second set, Lisbon saw a Midland team desperate to keep its season alive in the third. The Lions finally broke the Eagles with two long volleys, in which Lisbon players made fingertip plays by laying out on the floor and successful hits on rebounds off the net.
When the whistle blew in their favor, the Lions gained that all-important edge emotionally.
“Oh, (those plays) were huge,” Kamaus said. “And honestly, those are things we probably have not done as well this year as we wanted to, or as well as we think we can.”
The Lions being able to make those scrambling plays is a result of a somewhat unique practice method. Kamaus will take to the other side of the net, along with his assistants Rachel Heiar and Amanda Kahl, and make their players work against some former collegiate-level volleyball talent.
“I think that helps out in terms of their ability to scramble a little bit on the floor,” Kamaus said. “But when you can win a couple of those points, that really builds momentum.”
Success in the face of a tough play clearly gave the Lions a spark, and when asked about the affect they have on the team, senior libero McKenna Kilburg broke into a wide smile.
“Those plays, more than anything, gave us energy,” Kilburg said. “We play best when we have our most energy. We build off each other. It’s just awesome, and a great thing to be a part of.”
Despite getting a boost from the close plays, Lisbon definitely didn’t need to rely on them. Consistent serves and bullying play at the net frustrated the Midland players throughout the match.
Some of the errors from the Eagles may have looked self-inflicted, but Kamaus was quick to point out that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“Our exact words (before the match) were, ‘Put them in a position to make mistakes,’” Kamaus said. “I said, ‘You have to do that by being aggressive on your serve, but keeping them in.’
“Our passing had to be pinpoint, and I thought we passed really, really well. I thought we really put ourselves in a good position.”
Lisbon doesn’t get to bask in the glow of the win long, though. The Lions are set to play at No. 11 Springville on Oct. 29 in the Regional quarterfinal. Springville advanced last night with a three-set sweep (25-10, 28-26, 25-19) of their own against Central City.
Junior Danielle Heiken said the team is “very” – with heavy emphasis on ‘very’ – eager to have another shot at their Tri-Rivers Conference opponent, whom they’ve played three times already this season (going 1-2 in those matches).
Though one ranked team will be going home much earlier than they’d like, it will be a chance for the Lions to seek vindication for losses in those max-set matches.
“Our games against them this year have been phenomenal,” Kamaus said. “It’ll be a challenge going up there, they’ve got a good crowd.
“I think (our team) wanted that opportunity (to play Springville again). Well, here we are. We’ll see.”