Marshfield took out one formidable team in its Class 3 volleyball district before ultimately falling to one of the best teams in the state.
After impressively putting away Springfield Catholic in straight sets, defending state champion Logan-Rogersville swept both sets (25-21, 25-15) on the Lady Jays floor in the district title game on Oct. 29.
“We had some errors, and when we play against a team like Logan-Rogersville, we have to play close to perfect,” Lady Jays head coach Jared Olson said. “If we’re not, there starts to be some separation, and that’s what happened.”
The Big 8 Conference foes have had a propensity for producing exciting matchups recently. Aside from a quarterfinal against Helias, Marshfield was the only Class 3 team to take a set from the Wildcats (33-4) during last year’s championship run. When the teams met less than four weeks prior to last Tuesday’s match, also in Marshfield, Logan-Rogersville won by scores of 25-22 and 25-18.
“We knew when we found out that we were going to play Marshfield that it was going to be a big, competitive game,” L-R’s Birdie Henderson said. “They’re a scrappy team, and we always love playing them, especially because it was their home court, so the pressure’s on. We were pumped up.”
Henderson established herself, per usual, as a force in the first set. The Florida commit had seven kills in a game that was neck-and-neck –– and also saw Marshfield lead more than a few times –– all the way to the conclusion.
“They’ve got a generational player in Birdie,” Olson said. “She’s a pleasure to watch and scary to coach against.”
Though a defensive switch made by coach Tammy Miller to move the middle blocker back in the first set assisted in taking a lead, the Lady Jays trailed just 7-6 early in the second game. L-R, though, went on a 7-1 run at that point, and Marshfield could only get as close as five as the Wildcats kept the hosts as bay.
Henderson's 12 kills and eight digs were team-highs, as were Sam Thompson's 24 assists.
Earlier in the night, the Wildcats swept Willow Springs to reach the final, while Marshfield replicated its impressive win over the Irish from senior night in the other semifinal.
The first set against Catholic proved to be a thriller in which the Lady Jays trailed 19-13, then 24-21. Brianna Utecht and Emily Aldridge doubled at the net to deny the game-winning point, then the Irish failed to return Addison Crider’s serve as Marshfield pulled within a point. The Jays took the lead on a kill by Baylee Hayes that couldn’t be handled by Catholic’s libero, and Hayes also supplied the set-winning point in a 26-24 triumph.
Crider came up with back-to-back kills early in the second set, where Marshfield flexed out to an 11-4 advantage. Hayes came up with a late block in that one as well, which the Jays took, 25-15.
“Baylee was huge at the end of that first set, and that gave us the momentum going into the second set,” Olson said.
“We handled our business in the second set and stayed on top [against Catholic], and I think the exact same thing happened against Rogersville when they played us [laughs],” Olson said. “We had a lapse in that first set [against Catholic], but I was so impressed with our girls to come back how we did, that was outstanding.”
Olson complimented his senior group, and entire team for finishing 25-8-2 in a season that pitted the Jays against the hardest schedule in program history that he was aware of.
He also predicted that the Wildcats would book a ticket to Cape Girardeau over the weekend, which they did. Logan-Rogersville first defeated California (25-15, 25-10), then Reeds Spring (25-10, 25-19) in the quarterfinal, advancing one step closer to a title repeat.
The Wildcats draw a St. Francis Borgia team Friday who they fell in three sets to in the semifinals three seasons ago. If victorious, they would meet the winner of St. Michael and Windsor (Imperial) in the title game on Saturday.
Bryan can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.