LYONS — It was a championship match two years coming, and the Lyons Lions girls volleyball team finally hoisted a sectional championship on Sunday afternoon after losing to Harley/Allendale-Columbia in Fall 2019

The No. 1-seeded Lions (18-1) dominated in straight sets over Alexander (16-2), 25-14, 25-11 and 25-12.

“It feels really good,” Lyons head coach Becky Collins said after the win. “They’ve worked hard for a lot of years. The core group of this team has been together for a number of years so they worked and they worked and they finally got over that hump.”

Lyons junior Karlee Kemp was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“It’s amazing, I really wasn’t expecting it,” Kemp said after being named MVP. “We have a lot of really good girls on the team.”

Kemp finished the match with a team-high 13 assists and her gallop-gather serve step led to six aces.

“It’s the best thing ever,” Kemp added on winning a sectional championship. “We’ve been working hard since the beginning of the season so I’m super excited.”

Senior Ella Lester and junior Morgan Verbridge also were named first-team for the tournament as well.

“It feels amazing,” Lester added on winning the sectional championship. “I’ve been waiting so long for this. There is an ‘OG-Four’ that has been on here since ninth grade. Each one of us has worked so hard. The whole team works so good together on the court.”

Lyons took control in the first set as they would all match long, rolling to a 7-2 start to force a Trojans timeout.

Lyons went up 19-9 later in the first set when senior Alicia Morrison had a huge block and extended the Lyons lead to force another Alexander timeout.

Verbridge spiked it on the final point of the opening set to give Lyons the 25-14 set win. The junior outside hitter finished her match with four kills and three digs.

Alexander scored the first point of the second set but that turned out to be the only lead the Trojans held in the second set as a Lester kill knotted it up at 1-a-piece.

Lester finished her final game of her high school career with an all-around effort, registering four kills, one ace, one block and a dig.

Lester and her fellow seniors will be a class that coach Collins will remember forever.

“They are a great group of girls,” Collins said on her seniors. “They are great leaders, they brought lots of energy and how to bring everyone else along with them."

“The younger players are amazing, they have so much potential,” Lester said of the program moving on without her and the rest of the senior group. “I can see them growing together. They’re just going to do amazing things because they are so well-rounded.”

Kemp served the next seven points to put the Lions up 8-1 after the early second set deficit as Lyons cruised to a 25-11 set win.

The third set was much like the second set with the Trojans off to a 1-0 lead that swiftly disappeared. Only this time, it was their final lead of the match.

In the final set of the season, Lyons senior Jenna Stone began the home crowd’s celebration with a booming kill to put her Lions up 17-7.

Stone finished her final game of her high school career with nine digs, three kills and one ace.

Stone served out the final two points of the game with match point set up after a Trojans return.

Senior Riley DeCola-Valezquez bumped the Trojans’ return and like nearly every single point in the set, match and season, Kemp stepped underneath and set up Verbridge to bring home the sectional title with a final shattering kill.

“We hope to keep this going,” Collins added on her program going forward. “We have a lot of younger girls coming through, our JV’s did really well so hopefully we can rebuild.”

MVP Kemp will return next season for her senior year.

“I think we’re going to be really strong,” Kemp added on her team moving towards next season. “I’m really excited for next season. I’m just really glad that we were able to succeed this year and I can’t wait to come back next year.”

Lyons' celebration continued right after the sectional championship with a fire department escort for a celebration parade while the Lions road in a school bus.

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