Mondays and Wednesdays are about as busy as it gets for Sandburg senior Leah Lane.
For five hours she takes advanced placement classes. After fifth hour, she leaves Sandburg to go to Moraine Valley Community College, where she takes an advanced math class. Then she returns to Sandburg to either practice or play a match with the volleyball team.
“I guess I just try to stay organized and keep everything in hand,” Lane said. “Volleyball really helps me to take my mind off of school, and then I can still go home and focus on my school work.”
It adds up to one of Sandburg’s brightest students and best volleyball players.
The 6-foot right-side hitter is one of the big reasons that Sandburg is 19-5 and a favorite to win the SouthWest Suburban Blue title.
“She’s not someone who is going to jump out of the gym,” Eagles coach David Vales said. “You may not see a great vertical. But she’s the smartest player when it comes to finding the shots and reading the defense and all of the other things that come with it.
“She’s a setter by nature, and those are people who can read the blocks and things. We obviously have Sami Knight (to set), so she said, ‘What do you want me to do, coach?’ And she went out and developed into a huge blocker, one of the best blockers I’ve seen in the state.”
Lane is a quintessential example of the term student-athlete. She’s leaning toward a career in either business, computer science or engineering.
There isn’t a numbers puzzle she can’t figure out.
“I’ve always liked math because there is an answer for everything,” she said. “It’s organized.”
She’s been putting up big numbers for the Eagles volleyball team since midway through her sophomore season.
“When I was a sophomore that was when Dakota Hampton and Paige Bendell were on the team,” Lane said. “They were both great all-around players, and Paige was additionally a great setter. They kind of set the tone that you have to be aggressive when hitting and go for every ball that you can.”
With Hampton, Bendell and another power hitter, Kristy Theisen, graduating, Lane stepped to the forefront as a junior. She finished right behind team leader Bridget Lebert in kills (206) and added 44 blocks as Sandburg won 31 matches and ran the table in conference.
“I just kind of worked my way up,” Lane said. “You gain more confidence every year you’re on the team with the same coaches and the same group of girls.
“The team really helps me along because we’ve been together so long. A lot of us played together in junior high, and we’ve all been around each other forever.”
This season, Lane is a six-rotation player who never leaves the floor. She is among the area leaders in kills with 188, and also has 36 blocks and 70 digs.
“She’s our No. 1 go-to hitter,” Vales said. “If Sami Knight wasn’t here she’d be an all-area setter. Leah is the first one in the gym setting up the net and the last one putting the balls away when we are done. She’s one of the best kids I’ve coached in 18 years.”