In three close sets on Tuesday, the Stover Lady Bulldogs beat Sacred Heart to claim the Class 1, District 10 volleyball title 25-20, 19-25, 25-19.
The third set featured seven ties and neither team building much of a lead until Stover began to pull away late, getting a kill from Ashley Schroder to make it 20-16 before closing it out.
“We have been working so hard for this all season and it’s just great that we got that,” said Stover senior Mallory Uptegrove. “I’m proud of the girls. They worked so hard all season and they really deserved that win.”
Stover coach Carrie Hewett said in the third set saw her team stepping up on defense and swinging harder more often.
“It was awesome and all of them just stepped up and they knew that they had to get it done,” she said. “I’m very proud of them.”
The Lady Bulldogs took the first set 25-20 as the lead traded hands several times throughout. Stover had early kills from Uptegrove but the Gremlins answered with early aces from Anna Callis.
Kills from Uptegrove and Morgan Iman helped the Lady Bulldogs build a 20-16 lead and Stover closed it out moments later.
Stover miscues as well as strong serving from Annalise Mergen and Laura Wadley helped the Gremlins build a 19-5 lead in the second set. After Mergen’s serving put Sacred Heart up 9-4, Wadley stepped in and served 10 straight points to make it 19-5.
“They were putting the pressure on (Stover),” said Sacred Heart coach David Fall. “They were serving the ball low, flat to the net and making them handle it. Sometimes they got aces, sometimes they sent us a ball that we were going to be able to attack. We were keeping them from attacking off the serve.”
A kill by Kaylan Black sparked a Lady Bulldogs rally with Taylor Beckman serving a pair of aces and Uptegrove getting a kill and a block on back-to-back points to cut the lead to 20-15.
“We just stayed upbeat and positive,” Uptegrove said. “We knew what we had to do.”
Hannah Wilhoit put momentum back in Sacred Heart’s favor with a pair of kills and the Gremlins finished off the set 25-19.
For Sacred Heart, the championship game capped off a night in which the Gremlins played five close sets, beating Green Ridge 25-23, 25-22 in the semifinal.
“I saw we were really strong mentally all night,” Fall said. “In long stretches this year we struggled with believing in ourselves and they believed in themselves (Tuesday) and stayed together and worked hard and stayed mentally tough. … We ran into two good teams. That was fun volleyball.”
Green Ridge jumped out to an early lead in the first game before Sacred Heart rallied back, taking a 12-11 lead on an ace from Wadley. Sacred Heart got within a point of closing it out, taking a 24-21 lead before the Lady Tigers scored the next two. Wilhoit finished it with a kill.
The Gremlins then scored the first five points of the second set. The Lady Tigers cut the lead to one several times only to see the Gremlins answer. Merry Allen tied it at 20-20 with an ace, but Sacred Heart answered again. Wilhoit ended it with a kill.
Stover beat Northwest in the semifinal. The Lady Mustangs got 10 digs and eight service points from Megan Walk, four kills from Ashlynn Liebl and six assists from Jessie Ehlers.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles