Lafayette volleyball returns for shot at another state title


Lafayette volleyball coach Sonya Land has the Hornets in position to win a second straight state title.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 12:53 a.m.

Few teams in the state have dominated girls volleyball like Lafayette has since 2011.

Facts

Class 1A state semifinal

Who: Lafayette (23-0) vs. Baker (20-2)
Where: Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee
When: 2 p.m. today
Up next: Winner will play winner of Liberty County-Pierson Taylor in Friday’s state final at 6:05 p.m.

In the years prior to winning the Class 1A state title last season and capping a 20-1 campaign, the Hornets hadn’t even won a playoff game. They were a combined 0-3 since 2001.

That hardly seems possible seeing Lafayette play these days. The Hornets (23-0) are back in Kissimmee looking to win their second straight state title, and face Baker (20-2) today at 2 p.m. in the semifinals in a rematch of last year’s final at Silver Spurs Arena.

“To get to go back and try to win another state championship with these same group of girls is very exciting,” said Lafayette coach Sonya Land. “It would be very exciting to win two in a row.”

As good as Lafayette was in 2011, it has been even more dominant this season, posting 3-0 sweeps in 22 of its 23 matches, with the lone set loss coming at Newberry. The Hornets come into today’s semifinal winners of 43 straight matches.

“I think the girls know that (streak), but it’s not something we harp on,” Land said. “We’ve talked about losing that one set this year, and how we shouldn’t have lost it.

“We’ve had a lot of close games in which we had a lot of unforced errors, which we can’t keep making. We have to play without a lot of unforced errors, play as a team and not make little mistakes.”

The Hornets are led by senior outside hitter Lindsay O’Steen (398 kills, 91 aces, 202 digs), senior middle blocker Bailey Edwards (173 kills, 33 blocks), junior libero Lydia Land (552 digs) and senior setter Kaleigh Law (439 assists, 81 aces). Ten of the 12 players were also members of the 2011 state champion softball team.

“Lindsay is just an all-around good athlete,” Land said. “She has all the tools, she is smart and works really hard.

“I believe softball is her No. 1 love.”

O’Steen was The Sun’s 2011 small school athlete of the year.

Land, who is in her sixth year as varsity coach, has spent a lot of time with her players ever since elementary school.

“I have been with this group of girls since the fourth grade,” she said. “They are just a great group of girls and a great group of athletes. They have stayed together as a team.”

Baker is led by senior outside hitter Katie Wickery (250 kills, 73 aces) and senior mid hitter Haley Wagner (175 digs, 90 kills).

A year ago, Lafayette swept Baker 3-0 in the state final. The Hornets are hoping to get past the Gators again and play in Friday’s state final at 6:05 p.m.

“I think they lost one senior from last year, and we lost two seniors,” Land said.

“We basically have the same team. We are kind of going in knowing what each other have.”

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