After returning from a victorious game against Kenwood in the second round of city playoffs, the Lane Girls Varsity Volleyball team fell to defeat against Payton on Oct. 12 in three sets, 25-21, 25-22, 25-15, earning them fourth place in city.
According to MaxPreps, both Payton and Lane had the same conference record, 5-4, before meeting for the third time in the quarterfinals. On Sept. 28, both teams met for the first time this season, and Lane won in two sets, 25-20 and 25-11. Before the playoffs began, the two met once again on Oct. 1; Lane won the first set, 25-19, but Payton won the second set, 25-17, leading Lane to their fourth loss in conference after a third set loss, 30-28.
Outside hitter Malina Paley, Div. 162, expressed how the team’s record in conference has affected their confidence, but strengthened their motivation going into the playoffs.
“Our conference games have been kind of up in the air, but as the season has gone on, we’ve gotten more consistent in winning,” Paley said. “I think where we are today is a pretty strong team and we’ll do pretty good in conference.”
Lane entered the playoffs hosting their first-round game against Juarez on Oct. 8 for the chance to continue their city championship reign and to honor the senior players on the team.
Senior middle hitter Mia McDermott, Div. 053, shared her journey playing volleyball at Lane for all four years.
“This might sound cheesy, but it’s been life-changing—I feel like I’ve really developed as a player and as a person,” McDermott said. “I’ve met so many new people, and now that I’m a senior I feel like it’s finally our time to show off, leave an example to all the younger kids and players, and I’m so glad I met all these girls on the team because some of them are my closest friends and I’m really excited about this opportunity this year.”
Following the start of the first set, Lane seemed to be in a great position to advance in conference as Juarez struggled to return serve in the first set, earning them the win, 25-12.
Much of the second set consisted of short rallies due to out of bounds hitting and defensive mistakes on Juarez’s side of the net.
Lane defeated Juarez in two sets 25-12, 25-11, advancing to face Kenwood in the second round of city playoffs on Oct. 9.
Lane kept playing as they did against Juarez when facing Kenwood. The team earned a lot of points staying consistent on offense and forcing their opponent to make defensive mistakes.
After defeating Kenwood in two sets, 25-14, 25-11, Lane advanced to the quarterfinals where they met Payton for the third time this season.
Varsity Coach Lopez shared the strengths he thought were key in completing the first set victory.
“I feel like our momentum was really good, and we were excited, then at the end, our serving was key,” Lopez said. “We were serving tough.”
Following the start of the first set, Lane immediately gained a lead with two aces by Rowan Cloum, Div. 281, and a block. Payton’s defense struggled against the strong offense, forcing them to call a timeout.
After the timeout, the Grizzlies began to return serves and improve their offense by earning some kills. Multiple defensive mistakes by Payton and great hitting by Lane resulted in a first set win 25-21.
Lane struggled on serve receive at the start of the second set, as well as on defense as Payton continued to kill the ball. Towards the middle of the set, Lane began to pick up their offense and pushed to tie the game, 13-13, then continued on to gain the lead as they went on a six-point streak.
Due to a struggling serve-receive and Payton’s strong defense, Lane fell to defeat in the second and third set, 25-22 and 25-15.
Coach Lopez pointed out how the Payton crowd was distracting and caused a shift in momentum, making it seem more like Payton’s home than Lane’s. He also described the difficulties the team faced this season that affected their postseason.
“It was a rough, rough year and yet we played well, we competed well through the injuries, and we were seeded fourth in the city, so I’m still super proud of them,” Lopez said. “They still had a lot of fight in them, and even that game we lost at the end of it, I’m like, ‘I’m still proud of you guys because you fought and you put on a show for the audience.’ It was exciting.”
The team was looking to earn another title in the state tournament when they were scheduled to face Whitney Young in the first round on Oct. 29 at Summit, but due to the CTU Local 1 and SEIU Local 73 strike that took place Oct. 17 through Oct. 31, all CPS varsity volleyball teams had to forfeit in the IHSA state tournament.