Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
WARDSVILLE — The season is only one match old, but already the Blair Oaks volleyball team has done something last year’s squad didn’t.
The Lady Falcons played their first match in their home gym since October of 2013, defeating Linn 25-8, 25-7 on Tuesday.
“This is our first time back in, and I can attribute a lot of their intensity to that,” coach Joy Northweather said. “They’re here feeling at home again for the first time in a long time. Our seniors didn’t get to experience that last year. My seniors and my juniors, all of them are just fired up and ready to go.”
Blair Oaks played most of its home games at Lincoln University’s Jason Gym last season because of storm damage at its home gym, playing two others at Blair Oaks Middle School. The Lady Falcons wasted no time enjoying their return Tuesday, jumping out to a lead of at least 10-0 in each set.
Junior Sadie Turner served 10 points in the first set before the Lady Wildcats got on the scoreboard. After calling timeout, Linn scored its first point of the match on a ball that hit the top of the net and managed to climb over to the Blair Oaks side before falling to the floor.
The Lady Falcons began another streak, however, with a kill from senior Taylor Stockman. Before long, it was 17-1 in the Lady Falcons’ favor.
The Lady Wildcats won seven of the next 14 points before Turner resumed serving duties for the final point of a 25-8 set.
Northweather was impressed by Linn’s resolve after quickly falling in a hole.
“It’s easy to just give in when you’re down like that, but they had some good returns,” she said.
The second set began in similar fashion, this time with Alexa Stegemann serving the Lady Falcons to an 11-0 lead. Stegemann had five of her team-high six aces in the streak.
“One of our goals this year is to not drop down on our intensity, no matter what’s going on on the other side of the court,” Northweather said. “I think tonight the girls wanted to go out and they wanted to show what they’re capable of. … We cut down our errors. You don’t want any, but we cut down a lot on errors over last year’s first match of the season.”
As Turner did in the first set, Stegemann finished what she started, serving the final point of the 25-7 set.
“We’re looking to learn from every point, whether it’s a point in our favor or the other team scores a point,” Northweather said. “Every point we have to learn something and grow from it and go. Tonight, it was on our side a lot, and I think they learned. They stayed intense.”
Stockman led Blair Oaks with six kills. Allison Maxwell had four, and fellow junior Lanie Berhorst had two. Turner had seven assists to lead the Lady Falcons, and junior Jayde Peters had five.
Junior Paige Rackers missed the game with a meniscus injury in her left knee. Senior Madison Abbott, recovering from a hamstring pull, played some in the first set.
The Lady Falcons (1-0) play Thursday at home against School of the Osage in their first conference game of the season.