Mission accomplished

The championship team: front row (from left), manager Kaleigh Guhr, Aleena Cook, Alicen Meysing, Alyssa Booton, Anna Wiens, Page Hiebert, Manager Ashley Hiebert; back row, head coach Crysta Guhr, Brittney Hiebert, manager Abby Hannon, Kara Burkholder, Leah Booton, Eden Hiebert, Olivia Duerksen, Shelbi Stultz, Savanna Wuest, assistant coach Zana Manche.by Janae Rempel

The Free Press

This season, the Goessel volleyball team did what few are able to do?they never lost. The Bluebirds put the finishing touches on their perfect, 44-0 season by winning the Class 1A- Division I state championship over Centralia Saturday, 2-1.

?It?s a dream come true,? coach Crysta Guhr said. ?I?ve said this time and again, you don?t plan for this to happen. You work, but to stay undefeated is just a dream, and for us to have the opportunity to cap it off two years in a row, is just so special.

?I knew (we) were going to get it today. Even after the first game, I knew it. I just knew. Our motto all year?s been ?charged by belief,? and this group just truly believed.?

A semifinal victory over LaCrosse set the stage for a rematch with Centralia, the two-time defending champion who had ended Goessel?s bid for a perfect season in last year?s finals.

This time around, the Bluebirds were determined for a different outcome.

Things started slowly, as the Panthers kept Goessel out of rhythm and burst to a 12-3 lead in Set 1.

Page Hiebert and Eden Hiebert rattled off back-to-back kills to bring the Bluebirds within 16-10, but Goessel never closed within six, and Centralia went on to win 25-17. It was the only set Goessel lost all year.

Guhr said the first-set loss did not raise too much reason for concern.

?I thought we were okay actually,? she said. ?We got a little disheveled in the first half of that game, but the second half of the game, we were right there, and we were point-for-point.?

Guhr said the Bluebirds began to figure out the block and were making good passes.

?Usually we?re pretty good when those two things come together.?

Page Hiebert threw down a kill to start Set 2, which set the tone. Goessel never trailed and built to its largest lead at the end thanks to a 9-1 run. Page Hiebert capped it with a kill to give the Bluebirds a 25-10 victory.

Goessel maintained momentum early in Set 3 and built a 15-6 margin after back-to-back kills by Page Hiebert.

But Centralia came roaring back with a 7-1 rally, drawing within 16-13. Alicen Meysing and Eden Hiebert responded with a pair of kills to break the momentum and ignite a 6-1 Bluebird run. Centralia, however, closed the gap to 23-20 before Olivia Duerksen and Page Hiebert gave Goessel the 25-20 victory with a pair of kills.

Goessel?s championship run began with a sweep of its pool play matches Friday. The Bluebirds defeated No. 8 Clifton-Clyde (25-10, 25-8), No. 5 Waverly (25-8, 25-10), and No. 4 Rosalia-Flinthills (25-16, 25-4).

In the semifinals, Goessel defeated LaCrosse in straight sets (25-22, 25-19).

In Set 1, LaCrosse took its only lead, 14-13, with an ace serve, but a kill by Page Hiebert ignited a 10-2 burst after that.

The Leopards took an early lead in Set 2, but Goessel claimed it and later used a 4-0 run to stake a 19-10 advantage.

?I hate to say we were looking ahead, but we were so close to where we knew we wanted to be, and I think that played into it,? Guhr said. ?I?m glad we got our nerves out in that match.?

By winning the state title, the Bluebirds tended to unfinished business, handing the Panthers? only their second loss of the season.

?This was storybook right here,? Guhr said. ?That?s who we wanted because we knew (Centralia was) the best team here, and so you want to beat the best to be the best, and we did.?

Janae Rempel / Free Press<p>Aleena Cook lifts the trophy as she and the rest of the Goessel volleyball team celebrate their state championship victory over Centralia Saturday at Fort Hays State University. Goessel capped a perfect, 44-0 season by winning the title.

A faithful contingent of Goessel High classmates made the long trip to support their team on Saturday.

 The Bluebirds celebrate the wining point against Centralia in the finals.

Janae Rempel / Free Press<p>Brittney Hiebert and Page Hiebert block a Centralia attack during Set 2 of the state championship Saturday.

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