They weren’t going to settle for anything less than a championship, and Goessel Bluebirds got the matchup they wanted in the 1A D1 volleyball state finals Saturday in Hays, pummeling Centralia to win Goessel’s first state title.
It was Centralia that prevailed against Goessel in last year’s final, handing the Bluebirds their only loss of 2014, and Saturday was payback time.
Goessel fans were concerned in the first set when Centralia forged ahead 12-3. Goessel scratched out points, but Centralia had answers for everything the Bluebirds tried.
Alicen Meysing and Brittney Hiebert blocked the Panthers’ best hitter, but the deficit was 17-11. Olivia Duerksen scored from the middle, but Centralia won the set 25-17.
It was the first time this season Goessel lost a set. It would also be the last.
On the sidelines, Goessel coaches were making adjustments.
“We knew once we got the block established, we would be in good shape,” said coach Crysta Guhr.
Page Hiebert started the Bluebird attack with a kill. Eden Hiebert and Duerksen combined for a block on the Panther star and momentum shifted to the Bluebirds. They led 10-5, then 13-6. Eden Hiebert kept the offense clicking as the Bluebirds stretched the lead to 20-9. Page Hiebert finished with an explosive shot to even the match 1-1 with a 25-10 victory.
The Panthers appeared fatigued as serving aces, defensive blocks, and Centralia errors allowed Goessel to bolt to an 8-2 lead in the third set.
“The more aggressive we became, they struggled with their defensive pass,” said Guhr.
The Bluebirds extended their lead 12-5, but the Panthers rallied to get as close as 16-14. Goessel called time-out, and the Bluebirds responded with a 5-2 run. Duerksen hit a winner from the right side and another kill from the middle to give the Bluebirds a 23-18 lead. The Panthers scored three consecutive points to cut the deficit to two. Alyssa Booton put up a quick set Duerksen again for a kill from the middle. Page Hiebert blasted a winner off a set from Booton to seal a 25-21 victory and the championship.
“We get beat every day in practice, so we are ready for moments like this,” said Guhr about losing the first set. “The intensity of this season was felt in practice from day one, as the girls only had one goal in mind, a championship.”
Kansas Volleyball Association selected Page Hiebert, Alicen Meysing, Alyssa Booton, and Eden Hiebert to the all-tournament team.
The Bluebirds cruised through pool play winning against Clifton Clyde 25-10, 25-8. Against Waverly, Goessel won 25-8, 25-11. The Bluebirds committed more errors than usual, but defeated Flinthills 25-16, 25-4.
In the semifinals, Goessel prevailed against LaCrosse 25-22, 25-19.
The Bluebirds finished the season 44-0, with nine wins coming against state tournament qualifiers.