Northland Christian stepped up in both games Saturday to defeat New Haven for the MSHSAA Class 1 volleyball state championship in Cape Girardeau.
The Lady Trailblazers (35-2-4) powered past New Haven (27-8-5) at the Show-Me Center, 25-21, 25-18.
In both sets, Northland Christian was able to take charge with the score close and pull away. New Haven pushed back late in both games, but couldn’t gain momentum.
“That was an unnerving feeling,” New Haven Head Coach Jaime Hoener said. “We had to battle back right all day long. In that second set, we were down big and we kept battling back. I’m proud of my kids for doing that, but did we need to put ourselves in that situation right off the bat? I think we allowed that to happen. Northland Christian is a good solid team, but you wish you would play your best right from the beginning.”
Hoener indicated Northland Christian put pressure on New Haven’s passers.
“I think our passing was a little more on yesterday especially in the first set (during pool play),” Hoener said. “Today, our passing wasn’t as good and we were having to give them some free balls and easy balls. We wanted to be able to attack at them to drive their hitters off the net and they wouldn’t be able to run their offense. That didn’t work out for us. Their hitters were aggressive and their block was big. They proved why they the record they have. They’re a very solid team.”
New Haven hit .213 for the match with a .217 first game and a .208 second game.
Senior Emma Engelbrecht led the New Haven attack with nine kills while hitting .316.
Senior Kate Ruediger hit .286 with six kills.
Senior Lauren Gerlemann had two kills and senior Mackenzie Bauer had one kill.
Defensively, Ruediger was the digs leader with seven. McKenzie Overschmidt, a sophomore, picked up five digs. Engelbrecht, Bauer and senior Lydia Pataky each had two digs. Gerlemann added one.
Bauer recorded 16 assists while Engelbrecht posted one.
Gerlemann had two block assists. Junior Claire Meyer and Overschmidt each had one.
Bauer and Ruediger served aces.
New Haven graduates five seniors from this team, Pataky, Engelbrecht, Bauer, Ruediger and Gerlemann.
“They just continued the tradition that was set by classes ahead of them,” Hoener said. “They wanted to make sure they were looked at as they looked at the other girls. They wanted to be known as hard workers and successful kids. I definitely think they did that this year.”
Hoener said this class also carried on New Haven’s volleyball tradition.
“It’s always special,” Hoener said. “For Kate, this was her fourth year. For some of the others, it was year No. 3. It never gets old. We do not take that for granted. We know how hard it is to get here. We’re very fortunate we were able to get here.”
For Northland Christian, Rachel Sturdevant knocked down 12 kills and hit .550 for the match.
Rebekah Rothacher had seven kills and Virginia Kruse was next with six. Elizabeth Kruse knocked down three and Alleya Fountain posted one kill.
Virginia Kruse picked up four digs. Rothacher, Aimie Fountain, Sturdevant, Kruse and Alleya Fountain each had three digs.
Rothacher posted 16 assists, Virginia Kruse had 10 and Grace Tetro posted one assist.
Elizabeth Kruse had a solo block and a block assist. Rothacher had one block assist.
Rothacher and Virginia Kruse served aces.
New Haven always plays in the SEMO Dig for Life Challenge in mid-September and since the state tournament moved to Cape Girardeau, it’s always served as inspiration to come back for the state event.
“We talk about it,” Hoener said. “We’ve been coming to the SEMO Tournament longer than we’ve been coming to the state tournament once it moved here. When the state tournament was moved, we felt we knew the facility and the town. That made it a little bit easier. We always talk in September when we come here that we would like to be back in a month or so. It’s never lost on us at all. We are very conscious about that fact.”