WARDSVILLE, Mo. - The Blair Oaks volleyball team honored its 12th graders Tuesday for the Lady Falcons' Senior Night. Appropriately enough, runs of 12-1 and 12-2 were the difference in the match as Blair Oaks defeated Battle 25-15, 25-15.
"It's really exciting, because it's my last home game that we have in the (regular) season," senior Taylor Stockman said. "We will be at home for districts, and it's just really exciting."
The first run came as the Lady Falcons were trailing 9-7 in the first set. Paige Rackers had four service points in the 12-1 stretch, and Ryan Dudenhoeffer served for six points.
"Our serving got very, very aggressive," Blair Oaks coach Joy Northweather said.
After closing out the first set, the Lady Falcons began a 12-2 run to start the second. Alexa Stegemann had a string of strong serves to close out the run, as well as a pair of kills. Stegemann led the team with four aces on the night.
"When she goes after it, she's got a heck of a serve, that's for sure," Northweather said. "She is normally very consistent. She's my No. 1, No. 2 server all the time, just because it's a different kind of serve. It gives them something different to look at. You notice that she's approaching her jump off the court and coming in. She has a very strong serve, and she very rarely misses."
Down 12-2, Battle went on a run of its own, winning seven of the next eight points.
"I have a lot of respect for Battle, how they've grown and improved over the last couple years," Northweather said. "They're becoming one of the stronger teams in Columbia right now."
With the game at 15-11, Blair Oaks rattled off seven straight points, paced by senior Madison Abbott, who had a kill, two blocks and a dig to start the run.
"We just got the momentum and kept going and pushed harder and got the W," Abbott said.
Abbott finished the match with three kills.
"That's one of the things that we're going to miss a lot about our seniors next year," Northweather said. "You put either Madison or Taylor up there with Allison (Maxwell) and Ryan, and we have a very, very strong block. It's going to be tough to replace."
Abbott, Stockman and Kailey Wieberg make up the Lady Falcons' three-player senior class. Blair Oaks currently has eight juniors on the varsity roster.
"Because there are so many in that class below them, they've always been the quiet leaders," Northweather said. "They've always been leaders in ways that I want them to be. It's not always about what's on the floor. It's off the floor, it's talking to the girls, and they've done a really good job for the program. We'll miss them a lot."
Stockman added: "We kind of feel pressured because we're the only three that are the oldest ones. We're in charge, and we've got to help the younger girls out."
Getting all three seniors playing time was a difficult task, as all play at the right outside hitter position.
"It's not like a basketball game where you can start them all," Northweather said. "Your hands are a little bit tied in volleyball where you can put people, where you can start them out. But I was just happy they all got in the match. Kailey had a nice dig for us that kept us going in the first set."
Abbott's ability to play in the center gave Northweather some flexibility to play her and Wieberg alongside one another.
"We also have to work for our spot in our position," Wieberg said. "So it's kind of exciting that she got all of us in."
Maxwell and Stegemann each had a team-high seven kills. Sadie Turner had 12 assists, and Jayde Peters had six. Maxwell had three blocks and Rackers had seven digs. The Lady Falcons are now 22-2-1.
Blair Oaks won the JV match 25-17, 25-17. Morgan Hoecker had five kills. Emily Yaeger had 11 assists and Ali Juergensmeyer had 10. Yaeger had two aces and Maggie Savage had three blocks for Blair Oaks (19-0).
The Lady Falcons defeated Battle in the C-team match: 25-15, 20-25, 25-12. Sydney Nivens, Halie Rackers and Kayle Hoelscher each had two kills. Madalyn Temmen and Rackers had two assists each. Claire Smith had eight aces for Blair Oaks (10-4-1).