CAPE GIRARDEAU • Hermann senior Allison Stiers thought she would be nervous.
She wasn’t, and her play showed it.
Stiers helped lead the way as Hermann went 2-0-1 in the Class 2 girls volleyball state tournament pool play Friday to advance to the championship at the Show Me Center. It is the third consecutive trip to Cape Girardeau for the Bearcats, who are still seeking their first title during this current run.
Hermann (32-5-2) advanced to face Arcadia Valley (30-5-1) for the championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I love the atmosphere and we have a really good group of girls this year and it’s a lot of fun,” Stiers said. “Being here in the past years and we haven’t gotten first so we wanted to be here and wanted to get first.”
Hermann is seeking the school’s 13th volleyball state championship, while Arcadia Valley (32-5-2), which also went 2-0-1 in pool play, is making its first championship appearance. The teams split in pool play Friday.
Last season, Hermann finished third after a 2016 runner-up finish to St. Pius X.
“Some of these girls like Allison were on both of those teams,” Hermann coach Linda Lampkin said. “They remember what it’s like to play for third and she remembers what it felt like to finish second, so that was a big motivator.”
Hermann entered the final match of pool play needing a split against St. Michael the Archangel to clinch a spot in the final. The Bearcats didn’t leave anything to chance, sweeping the Guardians 25-16, 25-17.
Lampkin said her players knew the championship-clinching scenario before taking the court.
“They knew we needed to get out there and win the first one, but we weren’t going to settle for that one,” Lampkin said. “We wanted to go out and win both of them.”
Hermann took control of the first set behind three straight aces from Grace Winkelmann to take a 17-12 lead. Three Stiers kills made it 24-16 and an Emma Godat ace officially sent Hermann to its 18th championship match in school history.
“I just wanted to get the job done and you have to hit hard to get the points,” Winkelmann said.
Hermann put itself in the driver’s seat to advance to the title match with a 25-16, 25-14 sweep of Mountain View Liberty. Winkelmann had 11 kills and Stiers had nine, while Caraline Brune had 23 assists.
The Bearcats broke open a tight first set with a late push. A Godat kill got it started, Brune had two consecutive aces and Stiers followed with two kills as Hermann won the final seven points of the set.
Hermann took control of the second set with an 8-0 run. Stiers had three kills during the salvo to give the Bearcats a 14-6 lead. An ace by Brune ended the match.
Stiers already was focused on the championship match moments after the semifinals ended.
“We have to serve a lot tougher than we did today, especially against (Arcadia Valley),” Stiers said. “We have to put up a good block and play good defense.”
Hermann began pool play with a 25-12, 22-25 split with Arcadia Valley. Winkelmann had nine kills to lead the Bearcats, while Brune and Stiers combined for 26 assists.
“Hopefully we learned a few things about them. I’m sure they learned a few things about us,” Lampkin said. “Today I felt that they adjusted in that second set and were able to beat us in that set. We’re going to have to avoid that (Saturday).”
Added Winklemann, “We all want it deep down. I think if we play relaxed, we’ll be fine.”