Consider it a lesson learned.
Last year, the Hermann Lady Bearcats lost out on a chance to go to the MSHSAA Class 2 championship match following pool play contests and settled for winning the third-place match.
This year, the Lady Bearcats went 2-0-1 in matches, 5-1 in games, to make sure it would be playing for the title Saturday.
“Friday is always a stressful day as we have to do well to get to play in that championship match on Saturday,” Hermann Head Coach Linda Lampkin said. “In this case, I think the girls were probably not as stressed as the coaches were.”
In pool play:
• Hermann split with Arcadia Valley, 25-12, 22-25;
• Hermann defeated Mountain View Liberty, 25-12, 25-23; and
• Hermann defeated St. Michael the Archangel, 25-16, 25-17;
Arcadia Valley also went 2-0-1 in matches, 5-1 in games, to also advance to the championship match. St. Michael the Archangel went 1-2 in matches and 2-4 in games while Mountain View Liberty was 0-3, 0-6.
Fans had to arrive early in an effort to see the preview of the state title match as Hermann and Arcadia Valley played at 10 a.m.
Hermann won the opener, 25-12, but Arcadia Valley took the second one, 25-22.
“The girls did not appear to be too nervous when we started pool play on Friday morning,” Lampkin said. “We played well against Arcadia Valley in the first set and really had our way with them. This was their first time there in a while so we had a bit of an advantage since Allison (Stiers) and Caraline (Brune) have played in the last two state tourneys and Emma (Godat) played in the tournament last year. Both Chloe Tyree and Chloe Witte were also on the roster for the state tournament last year.”
Grace Winkelmann recorded nine kills while hitting .444 for the match. Allison Stiers was net with six kills while Tyree had five, Godat added four and Brune ended with three kills.
Hermann had 27 kills as a team and hit .241 for the match.
Stiers had a double-double with 12 assists and 10 digs. Brune logged 14 assists and Winkelmann added one.
In the digs department, Winkelmann was next with eight. Witte closed with seven. Godat and Tyree each had six. Brune added five.
Witte served the only ace.
Godat and Stiers each had three block assists. Brune and Winkelmann had one block assist apiece.
“We had a really good game at the serving line, serving 100 percent in that game,” said Lampkin. “Several of our attackers also had high kill percentages. We only made two serve receptions errors and we had 39 digs. Probably the biggest stat from that game was our blocking game. We had a total of seven blocks. I think that really frustrated Arcadia in that first set.”
In the second game, Arcadia Valley rallied.
“In the second set, Arcadia did a good job of adjusting to our block and were able to get some key kills,” Lampkin said. “I think we got to see the true Arcadia in that second set. Their defense was relentless and we had a hard time finding the floor with our attacks.
“They got off to a 12-7 lead,” she continued. “We were able to come back and tie it at 20-20 and 21-21, but we could never pull ahead. They ended up closing out the game 25-22.”
Kirsten Day led Arcadia Valley with eight kills. Josie Landrum and Maddie DeMent each had six. Gracee Smith posted two and Macey Bowers added one kill.
Bowers dished out 23 of the 26 assists. Laney Tucker served an ace.
Landrum and Katie Whited each had 13 digs to lead the way and Bowers was next with nine. Smith added seven.
DeMent had the team’s lone solo block.
“At that point we knew we were going to have to have two wins in our next pool play game in order to get a chance to play for the championship,” Lampkin said. “I really felt like Arcadia Valley was probably the toughest team, but you cannot take anyone too lightly. At this level all of the teams are tough or they wouldn’t be there.”
Mountain View Liberty
Hermann then swept Mountain View Liberty, 25-16, 25-14.
“Again, the girls went out and took care of business,” Lampkin said. “They were on a mission to get to the championship game. We were more successful with our swings in this game totaling 32 kills on 78 swings for a kill percentage of .269. We had a good game at the serving line, scoring on seven aces.”
Winkelmann led the Hermann attack with 11 of the team’s 31 kills. Hermann hit .247 as a team.
Stiers was next with nine kills while Tyree ended with five and Godat posted four. Witte and Brune each had one kill.
Stiers and Godat tied for the digs lead with 11 apiece. Witte and Winkelmann each had six digs. Tyree added four and Brune closed with three.
Brune recorded 23 assists and Stiers had the other eight.
Hermann served six aces with Brune getting three of them. Witte, Godat and Tyree each had one ace.
Winkelmann had two solo blocks and a block assist. Godat had one solo block and one block assist. Brune and Stiers each had one block assist.
“We trailed right at the beginning of the first set, but we pulled away 5-4 and never trailed again,” Lampkin said. “They came within one at 15-14, but we got a sideout on a Grace Winkelmann kill. It was back and forth for a couple points when we got a kill from Emma Godat. Caraline Brune stepped to the serving line and served out the game. She served two aces during that stretch.”
Allison Smith led Mountain View Liberty with five kills. Piper Francis was next with three. Mountain View Liberty only had 13 kills for the match.
Caitlyn Basham was the digs leader with eight. Francis added five and Smith had four.
Mountain View Liberty had one ace and no blocks.
“We were happy to get two wins and that put us in a good position to get to that first-place game,” Lampkin said.
Concluding pool play, Hermann swept St. Michael the Archangel, 25-16, 25-17.
“We knew we were going to have to win one against St. Michael and I felt like we could do that,” Lampkin said. “My suspicion was that St. Michael was going to play good defense against us.”
St. Michael is a combination of three schools in the Kansas City area, including former state power Archbishop O’Hara, which won six state titles, placed second twice and third three times.
Hermann handled the Lady Guardians easily, 26-16, 25-17.
Hermann hit .387 for the match, including terminating the ball at a .467 clip in the opening set.
Winkelmann was Hermann’s kills leader with nine.
Stiers and Godat each had seven kills. Brune was next with three and Tyree added two.
Winkelmann also was the digs leader with 13. Witte and Tyree each had six digs. Stiers posed five while Brune had four and Godat contributed three digs.
Stiers recorded 15 assists, Brune ended with 12 and Tyree added one.
Winkelmann served four aces. Brune and Godat each had one.
Tyree had the lone solo block and also teamed up with Godat for another block.
“We held a lead for most of the game,” said Lampkin. “They tied it at 12, but a Grace Winkelmann kill and then three ace serves from Grace put us back in the lead. They trailed the rest of the game and we got the 25-16 win. In the second set, we got off to a lead and actually led 20-10 at one point. They were not done, and came within 7 points at 22-15. We managed to stay ahead and closed out the game with an Allison Stiers kill to get the 25-17 win.”
For St. Michael the Archangel, Abigail Salanski recorded six kills, Frances Mitchell was next with five and Lily McCombs and Taylor Westhoff each had four kills.
Calista Bokenkroger ended with 18 assists. Colleen McNamara was the digs leader with eight. Emma Foley was next with seven, Salanski closed with six and Bokenkroger ended with five.
“The girls were very excited after that win,” Lampkin said. “Winning the state championship has been one of their goals all season and they had put themselves in a position to accomplish that goal.”