The stinging feeling of disappointment hit Raymore-Peculiar senior Cheyanne Lyons on Thursday morning, only to moments later veer toward the thrill of accomplishing a career-long goal.
Lyons was announced as the winner of the Evelyn Gates Award, a honor she has long coveted that recognizes the top high school volleyball in the Kansas City area. After being told another player had won, she received the award during a surprise ceremony Thursday morning in front of the entire Raymore-Peculiar student body.
“I was really surprised. I was speechless,” Lyons said. “I couldn’t believe I got picked.”
Jordan Tucker of Bishop Miege, Taylor Sandbothe of Lee’s Summit West and Cassie Wait of Gardner Edgerton were also finalists for the award. All three are slated to play Division I volleyball next season.
Kansas City-area high school coaches selected Lyons as the best of the bunch.
“I thought I had a good chance with my stats this year and my career the past four years,” said Lyons, a four-year letter winner who will attend Northern Colorado on a scholarship next fall. “Those other girls are so amazing. Any of us could’ve won it.”
Lyons is an outside hitter and occasional middle blocker who recorded her 1,000th career kill in a match against Blue Springs South this season. In her senior season alone, Lyons tallied 544 kills — nearly seven per set.
That was enough to help Raymore-Peculiar to the district title match, which the Panthers lost to Sandbothe’s Lee’s Summit West Titans.
“She’s been tremendous in demonstrating what hard work can accomplish,” Raymore-Peculiar coach Katie Dowden said. “All of our girls want to emulate her. They look up to her as a mentor.”
Raymore-Peculiar will display the traveling trophy for the Evelyn Gates Award and also receive a $500 stipend for its athletics programs. Gates was a high school and college sports official for 45 years who died of cancer in 2003.