HERMANN — Lily Brown knows the clock is ticking.
The Borgia senior hitter realizes the pressure is on her senior-laden team to make her final girls volleyball season a memorable one.
"When you're little and you think about your senior year, the dream is always to win a state championship," Brown said.
The Knights are doing their best to reach that dream ending.
Borgia turned in a strong all-around performance in rolling past Hermann 25-15, 25-14 in the championship match of the 66th annual Hermann Invitational on Thursday in Gasconade County.
The Washington-based school claimed its 23rd overall Hermann title and third in a row.
"It always great to win this," senior hitter Caroline Glastetter said. "We kept it together and played how we need to play."
Brown, Glastetter and senior Ella Brinkmann are the leading forces behind a three-pronged attack that has amassed a total of 441 kills so far this season.
Plus, all three are headed to Maryville University to continue their volleyball careers.
Borgia has 10 seniors on its 14-player roster, so the expectations are high as usual. The Knights won the Class 3 state crown in 2019, their 11th overall, and finished third last fall after being bumped up to Class 5.
They have been placed in a loaded district along with perennial power Lafayette and Eureka, the 2018 Class 4 state champ.
"We know the road ahead is tough and it's (matches) like this that will prepare us for it," Borgia coach C.J. Steiger said. "The girls are playing pretty well right now. Hopefully, we're still climbing."
Borgia (20-2) has won six in a row after a five-set loss to Illinois power Mater Dei. The Knights' only other loss was a three-set setback to Eureka on Sept. 13.
"There's always room to get better," Glastetter said.
The Knights bolted out to an 8-2 lead in the opener behind two kills and four service points from Brinkmann, who finished with nine kills. Glastetter, who had eight kills, helped hold off a Hermann run with a highlight-reel cross court hit for a 20-13 lead.
Senior Kaitlyn Patke finished off the set with a strong kill.
Hermann (14-4) jumped out to an 8-5 lead in the nightcap behind the slugging of junior Holly Heldt.
Borgia then reeled off 15 of the next 19 points to regain control. Senior Lynsey Batson added a pair of thunderous kills.
Senior setter Annie Arand added 19 assists and spearheaded a strong defensive effort with nine digs.
"Borgia is so quick and they've got great ball skills," Hermann coach Phil Lundolt said. "We hung in there a little at the beginning, but they just had a lot of weapons."
Pacific moving on up
Pacific High defensive specialist Sophia Deusinger always walked through school with her head held high.
Even during last season's struggles.
"I was proud because we were trying our best," Deusinger said. "And I knew things would eventually get better."
They did. Much better.
Pacific is in the middle of an amazing about-face after winning just one of 18 matches last fall.
The turnaround continued on Thursday as the Indians went toe to toe with a pair of tradition-rich foes on the way to a third-place finish in the 66th Hermann Invitational.
"We felt like it would just take a little more experience before we started winning," junior hitter Annie Tomlinson said. "It's working out."
Pacific took Hermann to three sets before falling 25-17 in the finale on Thursday. The Indians (9-9-1) also held their own in a two-set loss to Borgia in the round-robin championship round.
Hermann and Borgia have combined for 25 state championships and have made 47 final four appearances.
First-year Pacific coach Joe Brammeier has helped trigger the turnaround.
"The girls simply didn't want the same outcome as last year," Brammeier said. "They came out at the beginning of the year and really showed that they wanted to change things. So far, they have."
Tomlinson and Erin Brooks led the attack up front.
"We're getting better and better every day," Tomlinson said.