The Goessel High School volleyball team started the state tournament against Centralia, a perennial competitor at the state level.
The vocal Bluebirds scored their first point on a Tia Goertzen kill but saw Centralia get ahead, 6-1. The Bluebirds came back with a Paige Booton kill and two blocks from Alex Hiebert to snatch a 9-8 lead. The Panthers scratched out a 3-point lead, but Goessel played tough and went ahead, 20-17. Senior Michelle Haug of Centralia served two aces and a Goessel player in the net allowed the Panthers to take a 22-20 lead. Hiebert and Goertzen tied the game with two kills, but two Goessel hitting errors allowed Centralia to take the first set, 25-22.
In the second set, Centralia jumped to a 5-1 lead. The Bluebirds found it difficult to get a block on Haug’s left handed spikes and the Panthers extended their lead to 11-5 forcing a Bluebird timeout. A bevy of errors by the Bluebirds helped the Panthers to a 20-8 lead. With D’Ambra Kruger serving, Booton was able to connect on several hits to give the Bluebirds a bit of life, but Centralia closed out the set and match, 25-15.
Makaila Schmidt started the second match with a winner, and Kruger hit a shot for a 2-0 lead. Errors reared their ugly head again in the first set as the Bluebirds found themselves in a 17-5 hole. It seemed that Spearville was able to take advantage of every Goessel miscue and stretched their lead to 24-9. The Bluebirds made a run at the end of the set scoring four consecutive points before a serving error ended the set, 25-14.
The momentum the Bluebirds were able to muster at the end of the first set propelled them to a lead of 8-4 in the second set. Although the Lancers tied the game at 12, the Bluebirds began to take advantage of Spearville errors and built a 16-12 lead. Kills by Kruger, Goertzen, and Booton kept the Bluebirds ahead, 22-17. The teams traded points until Hiebert crushed a spike and went back to serve and the Lancers could not return, allowing the Bluebirds to win the second set, 25-19.
In the third set, the Bluebirds stayed close, tying the game at 6 before the feathers came off. A cluster of Bluebird errors allowed Spearville to outscore Goessel, 9-2. The Bluebirds would never mount a serious rally and lost the third set, 25-16.
Against the seventh-seeded Pike Valley team, Goessel got off to a great start. The Bluebirds led, 7-2, when a frustrated Panther team was called for a rotation error. Booton got a kill and Schmidt served an ace to give the Bluebirds a 9-5 lead. Pike Valley rattled off five consecutive points to take a 10-11 lead, but Nicole Bartel got under a hard hit, and the Bluebirds crept ahead, 18-14. Pike Valley tied the game at 20, and then it was a battle. A Booton ace gave the Bluebirds a 23-21 lead. Goertzen scored on a soft spike to take a 25-24 lead, but the Panthers would score three straight to win, 27-25.
In the second set of the third match, the Bluebirds jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Passing and hitting errors complicated things for the Bluebirds. The offense would not click, and the Panthers won the match, 25-12.
Five Goessel seniors ended their high school careers by playing at the highest level of Kansas high school volleyball. Nicole Bartel came on strong in a defensive role at the end of last season and contributed to the team’s success this year. Makaila Schmidt had an aggressive serve and hard hits at the net. Paige Booton led the team with kills many nights and played all the way around for this years’ squad. D’Ambra Kruger used her jump serve effectively and played the front row. Aimee Flaming led the team in setting during her senior season. The Bluebirds ended a very successful season with an overall record of 29-13.