Goessel’s oh-so-close unbeaten volleyball season ended one step from perfection with the Bluebirds’ second-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament on Saturday.
Coming into the tournament with a 39-0 record, Goessel swept all three pool-play matches on Friday, defeating Leon-Bluestem, 25-11, 25-13; Meade, 25-12, 25-11; and Smith Center, 25-12, 25-12.
“I felt like we took care of business pretty well until the last set against Smith Center,” coach Crysta Guhr said. “I think fatigue played a little bit of a factor in that last set. It was an awfully long day to wait to play in the afternoon of the state tournament. I think that match started shortly after 9 o’clock and it was close to 9:30 before that final set.”
Even so, Guhr said she was proud of her team’s focus and determination.
“Overall, I thought we stayed really consistent,” she said. “I was very, very pleased with how Friday’s play went.”
As winners of their four-team pool, Goessel advanced to the a semifinals match against Blue Rapids-Valley Heights. The Bluebirds prevailed in a tight battle, 25-23, 25-22, to earn a berth in the championship finals.
“I thought we played outstanding,” Guhr said about the Valley Heights. “We tweaked our lineup just a little bit to make sure we had the right blockers in the right place, and that turned out to be a pretty darn good decision.
“Their left hitter definitely had some kills, but we were able to slow her down significantly, and we limited the number of points she was able to put on the board.
“It was an exciting match. They are athletic and it was a really fun match.”
The semifinal win set the stage for the title match against Heritage Christian, a private school from Olathe that was well invested with athletic girls and depth of experience.
The Bluebirds came up short of their dream with a 25-23, 25-22 loss.
“I don’t feel we were outclassed with athleticism, but you could tell those girls play ball year round—it’s just a slightly different clientele,” Guhr said.
“They were a very good team and they served very aggressively. When we were passing well, we were wining. When our passing game was just OK, we started losing. I knew they would be good servers. They were really aggressive.”
With a 43-1 season record, Goessel’s four seniors—Eden Hiebert, Brittney Hiebert, Leah Booton and Kara Burkholder—compete a career run of 172-4 through their four years of high school
“It is almost laughable because you just can’t fathom it,” Guhr said of the run. “So, to say that these four will be missed is a major understatement.”
Guhr said losing the championship hurt, but she was proud how her team processed their disappointment.
“We talked a lot about it afterward on the way home and when we went to eat,” she said. “Losing was not what the tears were about, it was just about the fact that the ride was over, the time to be together everyday was over and competing for something better than yourself is over.
“The loss obviously stings, but by the same token we know that’s the reality of playing sports,” Guhr added. “These girls have a really good perspective.”