Lyon, a sophomore setter, and Cundiff, a senior outside hitter, for O’Fallon Christian had their season halted last October at the hands St. Francis Borgia in a district title match.
Since that crushing Oct. 17 district defeat, the focus of the Eagles’ dynamic duo for this fall has been fueled by that disappointment.
“That last game last year was heartbreaking for us and I think it will push us harder to work harder in practices and harder in games,” Cundiff said. “There’s been a lot of motivation for all of us to continue to work harder in the gym and right now [the district loss] is what helps us with that.”
Lyon, a 5-foot-10 setter, was so dominant as a freshman that she distinguished herself as one of the area’s top setters and has already given a verbal commitment to play volleyball for the University of Missouri.
For Lyon, volleyball has been an everyday part of her life since she was a grade-schooler hanging around with her dad, Todd, a longtime volleyball coach, who previously coached in Wisconsin.
“I’ve always been in the gym with my dad since I was in fifth grade, and he was a high school volleyball coach, and no matter what, I would be practicing with the team,” Lyon said.
“Early on I knew she enjoyed the game because she was always grabbing a ball in the gym when she was 5 and 6 years old,” said Todd, who coaches for O’Fallon Christian. “She always wanted to be in the drills when I was coaching, so she kind of had the love for the game from the start.”
Lyon was the ultimate playmaker for a skilled Eagles group last season, averaging 9.52 assists per game and, while Lyon was setting up her teammates, Cundiff, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter was doing her part finishing strong at the net with an average of 4.4 kills per game.
While Cundiff and Lyon are the driving forces for O’Fallon Christian, it’s not just their play that fuels the club’s intensity on the court.
“I think their tenacity and their consistency with their play and that they limit their errors really helps their team,” Todd said. “They also bring their teammates up through their hard work and the caliber of their play.”
Lyon and Cundiff will receive plenty of help from a talented supporting cast that includes a double-trouble combination of skills on the front line.
Junior twins Kalynn and Kennedy Davis combine to create a wicked two-headed monster that opposing teams dread facing. The 6-1 twins are a potent blocking tandem and can score at will off and above the net. Kennedy led the Eagles in blocks with 55. Combined, Kalynn and Kennedy had 179 kills last season.
Heading into this season, O’Fallon Christian is locked in on improving on last year’s 25-3 season.
In order to be better prepped and stronger for this season, Todd upgraded the team’s schedule to include defending Class 5 champion St. Joseph’s, along with other area powers such as Incarnate Word, Eureka and St. Dominic.
“Our schedule wasn’t as strong [last year] is it is this year and playing those high-caliber teams, especially early, gives us a good measuring stick of where we need to be growing in areas of our game,” Todd said.
The Eagles led in both sets against Borgia before eventually losing both games and the match; that loss has them determined to get over the district hump this fall.
So far in pre-season practices, the vibe is positive and productive for the team.
“We’ve all been working so hard this week and the intensity from last year to this year is so much more intense,” Cundiff said. “We want to win districts and we want to go to sectionals. It’s the one thing we really want and, hopefully, it will carry over into the rest of the season.”