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43-1: Goessel volleyball takes second at state

Staff writer

The Goessel volleyball team stamped its presence on the 2A state volleyball tournament Friday and Saturday at Emporia, coming up just short in the championship match against Heritage Christian.

The top-seeded Bluebirds rolled over Leon-Bluestem in their first match of pool play Friday, 25-11 and 25-13, with Eden Hiebert, Brittney Hiebert, and Ciera Nolte overpowering their opponents with hits.

Savannah Wuest dished out good sets, Stephany Meyer blocked at the net, and Kara Burkholder served well as the Bluebirds cruised against Meade 25-12 and 25-11.

Smith Center did not yield so easily in the third match. After the Bluebirds used an 11-point run to win the first set 25-12, the Redmen put up a fight in the second. Uncharacteristic errors by the Bluebirds allowed Smith Center to keep it close at 16-14. After Goessel surged ahead 22-18, Smith Center came storming back and tied the set 23-23. Following a Bluebirds time-out, Eden Hiebert crushed the ball from the left side and Brittney Hiebert served an ace for the 25-23 win.

Valley Heights provided a stern test in Saturday’s semifinal match, getting out to an early lead.

The Bluebirds responded with finesse and power. With elbows on the floor, Audessi Unruh lunged to save balls as the Bluebirds climbed back into a tie at 18. Valley Heights took a 21-18 lead, but Goessel responded after a time-out, scoring 5 consecutive points. The Bluebirds escaped with the win, 25-23.

In a closely contested second set, Goessel took a 17-12 lead, but the Mustangs fought back to get within 19-17. The Bluebirds struggled to close the match, getting to 23 points while Valley Heights outscored the Bluebirds 4-1 before Goessel captured the final point, winning its 43rd match of the season, 25-22.

Last season’s champion, Heritage Christian Academy, awaited the Bluebirds in the final. A dominating front line that included a 6-foot-5 hitter helped the Chargers take a 9-5 lead before Goessel called time-out. The Bluebirds scratched their way to an 11-10 lead with power from Eden Hiebert and back row defense from Maddi Smith and Unruh. The Chargers took a 13-12 lead, but when Goessel tied at 13, Heritage Christian called time-out. The Bluebirds put on a clinic as they surged to a 21-17 lead, with winners coming from Eden Hiebert, Brittney Hiebert, and Leah Booton. But the Chargers’ power game fueled a comeback for a 25-23 win.

The Bluebirds appeared stunned as the second set began. Heritage Christian moved out to an 8-2 lead and the Bluebirds could not get shots to hit the floor. Goessel played from behind the entire game, never gaining traction, and Heritage Christian won the game and championship 25-15.

“One of the most satisfying things for a coach is to see the growth in leadership among the players,” coach Crysta Guhr said. “The younger girls earn their spot, the older girls on this team embrace the leadership aspect and go after something they really, really, really want so badly.”

Eden Hiebert, Savanna Wuest, and Leah Booton were named to the Kansas Volleyball Association 12-member all-tournament team.

Goessel ended the season with a 43-1 record, with its only loss coming in the state finals.

Last modified Nov. 2, 2017

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