Volleyball team sees unfair end to season at Sub-State tournament

Scorekeeping error ends game prematurely, officials offer no explanation

The+varsity+volleyball+team+celebrates+after+winning+a+point+during+their+match+on+October+4th.+

Ellie Goans-Heinz

The varsity volleyball team celebrates after winning a point during their match on October 4th.

By Tessa Collar, Lawrence High School

The LHS volleyball team’s season ended on a sour note when players were forced to contend with a scorekeeping error in favor of the opposing team. 

In the midst of the team’s Sub-State game against Wichita Northwest, the score was tied at 26-26 in the third set of the game. Directly after a timeout, players and coaches noticed that Wichita Northwest’s score had been abruptly raised to 27. 

Head coach Stephanie Scarbrough raised this concern to both referees, who assured her that the score was correct, and did “not even entertain a conversation,” she said.

“Respect for officials is part of the culture of our program, and I felt I had fought as much as I could for the moment and it was in the hands of the team,” Scarbrough said. 

The next point was played, which went to Wichita Northwest, finishing the game at 26-28. 

“It’s kind of bittersweet because we definitely played our heart out that game and I’m proud that we went overtime,” senior co-captain Dana Nichols said. “We were pushing as hard as we could. But just to have it end on an unfair note and not [because] the other team was better than us, it just kind of sucks.” 

Although there were many younger players on the roster this year, the team still became close, thanks to team bonding dinners and a history of playing together. 

“It feels good to play with them because I’ve known them for a while,” senior Geme Ajekwu said. “Knowing people on the team makes it have more meaning.”

Junior Isabelle Waisner discussed how this close-knit dynamic impacted the situation. 

“A lot of us wanted it for each other,” Waisner said. “We weren’t just playing for ourselves, we were playing for our team, so everyone was just so disappointed.”

This was assistant coach Lori Stussie’s last season coaching before her retirement, following 16 years with the team, making the scoring error particularly difficult to accept. 

“I could not stop crying, and I am not a cryer,” Stussie said, “I am generally not emotional but every season comes to an end… this one was really painful to me because it was just so unfair to the girls.” 

Coaches sent a video of the incident to Hudl, an independent sports evaluator service, and received confirmation that the final score did not match what was played on the court. 

“We know that we lost our chance to go to state – to win our Sub-State – on an error at the table and at the error of the officials who were responsible for making sure it’s right,” Stussie said. “So the officials in that match did not do their job.”

Scarbrough emphasized the team’s hard work and progress, despite the unfortunate end to the season. 

“It doesn’t take away from the growth we had as a team from the beginning of the season to the end,” Scarbrough said. “We had so many great moments and nothing can take those away.”

This story was originally published on The Budget on November 15, 2022.