Making the best of the situation, the St. Francis Borgia volleyball Lady Knights captured the MSHSAA Class 3 third-place trophy Saturday in Cape Girardeau.
Borgia (28-8-2) defeated Pleasant Hill (27-14-1) at the Show-Me Center, 25-18, 25-18.
It was the second time in three seasons that Borgia won the state third-place match.
“Every year, only two teams get to go out with a win, first place and third,” Borgia Head Coach Andrea Beaty said. “We were one of them.”
Beaty credited her team for bouncing back from Friday’s pool play. After the teams were tied through pool play, Lutheran South won a playoff set over Borgia to close action.
“I always say the third-place match shows a lot of integrity,” Beaty said. “It’s tough after you know you’re not going to be in the championship match to come out and play your best ball. We had a very frank conversation about that after Friday night. I told them to take as much time as they needed in the locker room, but when they walked out the door, they needed to have smiles on their faces, go out and thank their families for their support and be ready for the next day.”
The win over Pleasant Hill also was Beaty’s 100th of her head coaching career.
“It feels good,” Beaty said. “Paige Lynn got her 100th win as well. She’s been with me since Day 1. It’s crazy how much this Borgia family has taken me with open arms. I’m a Washington grad and there’s always a joking little battle. They’ve just shown me so much love and support. This is a great program to be part of and I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other program. It’s a team accomplishment, but it feels really good.”
It’s the match none of the teams want to be in, but it’s a chance to close out the season with a win. That’s what the Borgia players were vying to do once they fell out of contention for the state title.
Beaty was able to play all of the seniors.
“I think it’s a special moment for the seniors,” Beaty said. “Not everybody gets to experience playing in an arena like that. Our six seniors have worked so hard. It wouldn’t feel right if not all of them were on the court. I was very proud of all of them.”
In the match, Borgia hit .193 while Pleasant Hill hit .148. Borgia recorded 19 kills to 16 for the Chicks. Pleasant Hill had more digs, 30-28, but Borgia dominated the net with seven total blocks to two for Pleasant Hill.
Borgia also served 10 aces to three for the chicks.
Grace Struttmann led the way with nine kills.
“It was a journey,” Struttmann said. “It was working together as a team and getting our chemistry together.”
Freshman Ella Brinkmann was next with four kills. Seniors Lynnae Grus, Sophie Straatmann and Diana Pfeiffer each had two kills.
“We were all excited, a little nervous, but we all worked through it,” Grus said.
“It feels amazing. We come in and always say we want first. That’s the ultimate goal, but this feels just as good. It was great to win our season with a win,” Straatmann said.
“I was super proud to be a part of this team,” said Pfeiffer. “We had such good chemistry and all worked so hard together at the end of the game and finished it strong.”
Senior Paige Lynn led the team with 12 digs (note — MSHSAA statistics were incorrect as she was not included in the box score).
“It’s very exciting,” Lynn said. “It’s the same thing I did my sophomore year, but it feels even better this year.”
Junior Abby Lynn was next with six digs. Pfeiffer had three, freshman Annie Arand ended with two and Brinkmann, Pfeiffer, junior Anna Eckelkamp, sophomore Gabby Mattli and Struttmann each had one dig.
Abby Lynn dished out 14 assists while senior Chloe Brundick was next with two. Arand and Paige Lynn each had one assist
“I thought Chloe Brundick did a great job stepping up,” Beaty said. “In the first set, she went in to serve and play defensive specialist and she did a good job. In the second set, she went in and set. She did an outstanding job. She’s small, but she’s mighty. Before every set, she gives the girls a pep speech. I think that’s outstanding. It’s leadership like that, putting the team before yourself, that gives a winning atmosphere.”
Brundick was happy to see extra playing time.
“It was very nerve-racking, but I was confident in the seniors I had on the front row,” Brundick said. “I had Diana and Sophie up there at one time. I was really calm with that. I’ve been playing with them since my freshman year, so it was real fun and exciting.”
Brinkmann posted the only solo block. Straatmann was next with four block assists.
Abby Lynn and Struttmann each had two block assists. Pfeiffer and Brinkmann each had one block assist.
Abby Lynn served five aces. Eckelkamp was next with three while Arand and Paige Lynn had one ace apiece.
Ana Hanes led Pleasant Hill with 10 kills. Tera Reberry was next with four. Maddy Nelson and Makenzie Carlile each had one kill.
Hanes was the digs leader with nine. Reberry and Ashlyn Long each had six digs. Hannah Joyce was next with five. Nelson and Carlile added two digs apiece.
Nelson, Reberry, Hanes and Carlile each had one block assist.
Joyce recorded all 15 assists. Long served two aces while Carlile added one.
“I’m a little sad that it’s over,” Pfeiffer said. “It hasn’t sunk in that it was our last game yet, but I’m still happy I had the opportunity to play with these girls this season. They’ve all become my best friends. I just appreciate every moment I’ve had on the court with all of them.”