One game short of perfection

? Undefeated Goessel falls to Centralia in state championship

Page Hiebert attacks the net during Goessel?s Class 1A, Division I state championship game against Centralia Saturday. The Bluebirds lost in three sets, finishing as state runners-up. It was Goessel?s first loss this season, and the Bluebirds finished with an overall record of 43-1. Dale Wiens PhotoThe Goessel volleyball team?s bid for a perfect season fell one game short, as the Bluebirds lost to defending state champion Centralia in the Class 1A, Division I state title game at Fort Hays State University Saturday.

The Bluebirds took Centralia to three sets, winning the first set, 25-17. But Centralia won Set 2, 25-15, and claimed the title with a 25-13 win in Set 3.

?We knew Centralia was the match-up we wanted at the end, and we knew it could go either way,? coach Crysta Guhr said. ?We also knew it would probably go three sets.?Before the match started, I told the girls that the team that passes the best will be the state champions.? And, ultimately, that is what it came down to.?Centralia served tough, and we didn?t handle the ball like we needed to in the second and third sets.?Credit to them.?

Goessel reached the championship with a two-set victory over Hoxie in the semifinals, 25-21, 25-20.

The Bluebirds qualified for the semifinals by sweeping their three pool play matches Friday. As the top seed in the tournament, Goessel defeated No. 8 Clifton Clyde (25-19, 25-5), No. 5 St. Paul (25-9, 25-13) and No. 4 Waverly (25-20, 25-23).

?I think our team played some of our best volleyball of the year at state,? Guhr said. ?We were pushed to defend very good hitters and had to work to get balls down against very good defenders.

?It?s never easy to lose, and to lose the state championship was clearly not easy.? However, I also believe that winning and losing are not the marks of a successful or non-successful team.?That?s why we never talked about how many wins we had this season.?Losing drills in practice, or not achieving a team goal in practice, those were moments we took to heart.? We learned from them.?

Goessel concludes the season with an impressive overall record of 43-1, having lost only three sets all season.

?The motto this year was ?Relentless,?? Guhr said.??I chose it because I wanted us to be relentless in our pursuit of improvement.?I think our team really rallied around this theme.?? Although this motto was never chosen to emphasize winning, and we never talked about going undefeated, the end result was that, because we were relentless about our work to improve, the wins followed.?

Guhr said the loss in the championship will be a driving factor for the team this off-season.

?They?ll be hungry to get back to Hays next year, and hopefully see Centralia in the finals again,??she said. ?This group doesn?t shy away from challenges, and I think the one loss will motivate them for quite a while.?

Guhr praised the character displayed by her team.

?These players are just great kids, with tremendous character, and I think they displayed that all year long.?

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