Goessel third at state tournament

Eden Hiebert attacks the net against Lebo Friday in pool play at the Class 1A, Division I state tournament. Goessel defeated Lebo and swept all three pool play matches. The Bluebirds went on to finish third in the state.The defending state champion Goessel volleyball team finished third at the Class 1A, Division I state tournament Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.

After sweeping Friday’s pool play matches, the Bluebirds faced top-seeded Centralia in the semifinals in a rematch from last year’s title game. Goessel lost in two sets, 25-20, 25-16.

“After getting them down early in the first set, they started rolling into our open spot behind the block, and it took us way too long to adjust to this,” coach Crysta Guhr said. “In the second set, our passing broke down and we couldn’t be as aggressive on offense as we needed to be, nor could we utilize our middles as well. This forced us into always being on the defensive, and they have hitters who could put the ball away.”  

The loss pitted Goessel against Kiowa-South Barber for the second time in as many days in the consolation match. The Bluebirds won, 25-10, 25-17, to claim third place.

“(I’m) very proud of how our team responded after losing in the semifinals,” Guhr said. “No one wants to be playing in the third-place match, but I thought our team showed a lot of pride, character, and grit to come out and play the way they did. We wanted to end with a win and finish on our own terms. Not many teams can say they ended their season on a win, and we did.  So, that is always something to be proud of.”

Centralia went on to win the state title by defeating Hanover, 25-13, 25-15. The Panthers have won three state titles in the past four years.

Pool play—Goessel swept all three of its pool play matches Friday.

The second seed in the tournament, the Bluebirds defeated No. 7 Dighton in three sets, 12-25, 25-12, 25-15 to start the afternoon.

“I think the pressure finally caused us to crack during that first set,” coach Crysta Guhr said. “I’ve never seen our entire team make so many mistakes. But they hung together and relied on each other, and knew if they just corrected themselves, they could turn it around. Thankfully, they did just that.”

Goessel then defeated No. 6 Lebo, 25-14, 25-14.

“We knew this match could be kind of sloppy, as they like to tip, roll, and shoot just about everything,” Guhr said. “We knew that coming in, and I thought our aggressiveness at the net took over. We don’t like to play matches like that—we prefer a hard hitting, quick tempo game. But the girls adjusted and knew the game plan. They were able to take care of business on this one.”

The Bluebirds concluded the evening with a two-set win over Kiowa-South Barber, 25-20, 25-17.

“This team plays very similar to Centralia with hitters only at the pins,” Guhr said. “I thought we looked tired in this match and emotionally a little spent. However, we were able to use an effective middle attack and then spread the offense all around to eventually come out with the win.”

Season reflection—For Goessel’s lone senior, Olivia Duerksen, it was her final time to wear a Bluebird volleyball uniform.

“We will miss her tremendously,” Guhr said. “She has earned herself a fourth-place, second-place, first-place, and third-place finish at the state level during her tenure as a Lady Bluebird,” Guhr said. “Very few players in the state can say that.”

Goessel concludes the season with an overall record of 42-2.  

“Another great ride,” Guhr said. “This team put in a lot of work to get where they ended up. After a large exodus of seniors last year, this group had to earn their own.”

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