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Jefferson rallies to beat Hermann in Class 2 final for school's first state championship

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Jefferson vs. East Buchanan girls volleyball

Jefferson celebrates during a Class 2 girls semifinal volleyball match on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, at Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Jefferson swept East Buchanan 3-0 to advance to the championship against Hermann. Gordon Radford | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

CAPE GIRARDEAU — Fairytale endings do happen, just ask the seniors on the Jefferson R-7 girls volleyball team.

“Walking into seventh grade gym on seventh grade tryouts, we all said we want to become state champions by our senior year,” outside hitter Kirstyn Loyd said.

Mission accomplished.

Jefferson beat perennial state power Hermann in 16-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 for the Class 2 championship Saturday at Southeast Missouri State University’s Show Me Center. It was the first team state title in the school’s history in any sport.

“It's still settling in that we won,” Jefferson coach Tara Fish said. “I knew how good we were and I knew that we could do it. It was just a matter of all of us putting it together at the same time.”

Emma Breier put down 23 kills, Loyd had 14 and Arkansas recruit Ava Roth had 11 kills and 26 digs for Jefferson (32-5-1), No. 5 in the STLhighschoolsports.com small school rankings. Paige Siebert had 45 assists.

Holly Heldt put down 24 kills and Breckyn Koeller had 35 assists for No. 6 Hermann (31-10-1), which was seeking a state record 16th state title.

The championship was a rematch from last season’s Class 2 semifinals, won by the Bearcats.

“We were not allowing ourselves to lose to them ever again,” Loyd said.

Heldt bookended a 7-0 Hermann run in the first set with kills to take an 18-13 lead. The Bearcats defense powered the outburst, frustrating Jefferson’s attackers with pinpoint positioning and a relentless pursuit to keep the ball off the floor.

“Jefferson just did everything right and they're a great team,” Hermann coach Phil Landolt said. “They're coached by a great coaching staff and they just outplayed us.”

A Quin Winkelmann kill and a Heldt ace helped clinch the opener for Hermann.

The Bearcats took control of the second set from the service line. Winkelmann got it started with an ace and Macy Bader put down back-to-back aces to give Hermann a 22-15 lead.

“I just told them I don't care if you win or lose this game,” Fish said. “I just want to leave here making sure that we leave it all on the court and that we have no regrets and that we have done our best. That's what I need and that's what you need from yourselves right now.”

Jefferson responded with a late rally sparked by big swings from Loyd and Breier to take a 23-22 lead. Another Breier spike broke a 23-all tie and Siebert evened the match with an ace.

“When we lost that first set, I went on the bench and I said, ‘I am going to connect with you guys and we're putting this ball away,’ ” Siebert said.

Jefferson once again needed a late push to erase a deficit in the third set. Roth and Loyd got the rally started with kills and an Avery Richardson block evened the frame at 22-all.

Breier followed with two straight kills and a Hermann hitting error gave the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead.

“We've been there done that,” Breier said. “So, we just know that we have to play our game and once we started doing that they couldn't keep up with us.”

Jefferson didn’t need a comeback in the fourth set. Breier, Roth and Loyd got the Blue Jays off and running with big swings and Richardson put down a key block before a Hermann hitting error ended the 1 hour, 47-minute match.

“We had it going and we were clicking,” Siebert said.

Fish said the energy from the bench played an unsung role in the comebacks.

“It's helped us all season is having high energy and we were exhausted out there,” Fish said. “Our sideline just brought some of that energy that they were struggling to pull out and Emma and Ava made sure to say to them, ‘Thanks, guys.’ ”

Notes: The 2002 Hermann state championship team was recognized before the match. Several members of the team and its coach, Linda Lampkin, took part. … The state championship meeting between Jefferson’s Loyd and Hermann’s Heldt is start of a rivalry in the making. Loyd, a Missouri Southern recruit, and Heldt, a Missouri Western commit, will be conference foes the next four years.

From an Althoff QB to a Villa midfielder, our Athletes of the Week are delivering top performances at the key moments of the season.

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