The Jefferson City volleyball team rallied to win six of seven points and came within four of taking the first set Tuesday at Fleming Fieldhouse.
Unfortunately for the Lady Jays, Kickapoo responded with a four-point run of its own to take the set. The Lady Chiefs then jumped out to a quick second-set lead and defeated Jefferson City 25-21, 25-10 on Senior Night.
The Lady Jays trailed 21-16 in the first set before going on their late surge, sparked by a kill from senior Mary Wehmeyer.
"Finishing has continued to be a struggle for us," Jefferson City head coach Lisa Hoffmeyer said. "When we're playing well, we kind of get content with playing well and not necessarily taking it to that next level and finishing and putting things away. That continues to be a problem for us."
Wehmeyer finished with a team-high eight kills and three blocks.
"Mary has been one of those kids that we can count on to have a good night almost every night," Hoffmeyer said. "She's pretty consistent, pretty good head on her shoulders, she's definitely our go-to kid. We always expect her to do her job, but of course it was special to see her do a really nice job on Senior Night."
Kickapoo's strong end to the first set became a hot start to the second when the Lady Chiefs secured their lead with a 15-4 run.
"Coming out on the court mentally, I felt like we were in it," Hoffmeyer said. "And then a couple points went the wrong way, and I just kind of felt like we gave up our fight pretty early in that one and didn't really give them the game that we could and should have given them."
Still, Hoffmeyer was happy with the Lady Jays' resilience in the first set, which she called "one of our better performances of the year."
"We were feeling pretty good after that first set," she said, "like we'd come out and maybe get the next two."
The match was evenly matched from the get-go. No team took more than two points in a row until the 15th point of the match, and no one led by more than three until a Lady Jays error gave Kickapoo a 14-10 edge, prompting a Jefferson City timeout.
On the third point after the timeout, Jefferson City's Baylee Rozier tallied a kill to end a lengthy rally - one of many on the night.
"That also has been a point of emphasis this year, just terminating the ball and understanding why we're going where we're going," Hoffmeyer said. "A lot of times, we fight defensively on those long rallies, and then we're swinging into where their defense is kind of sitting and waiting for us, so we're not putting the ball away. Just something we're working on."
Rozier's kill brought Jefferson City within three, the closest the Lady Jays would get until Wehmeyer got two blocks to get them within 21-18. An error, a block from Maddi Stone and a point featuring digs by Wehmeyer and Rozier, pulled Jefferson City to 22-21 before Kickapoo closed out the first set.
Once the Lady Chiefs jumped out to an 11-point lead in the second set, Jefferson City could not get the deficit below 10.
"(The Lady Chiefs) typically have very talented setters who can attack the ball just as well as they can set the ball," Hoffmeyer said. "I mean, they're just always a good, very well-rounded program that you can expect a good fight from."
Bailey Diehl led the Lady Jays with eight assists. Megan Bleidistel and Cameryn Campbell had 16 and 11 digs, respectively.
Jefferson City fell to 6-15 with the loss. The Lady Jays play Saturday in the Eldon Tournament.
Kickapoo won the JV match 25-20, 26-24. Stephanie Fischer had 24 digs for Jefferson City, Veronica Allison and Tori LePage had 11 service points, and Emma Gretlein had three blocks.
Kickapoo took the freshman match 25-11, 25-7. Carlee Brehe had five kills for Jefferson City and Micah Linthacum had four.
The JV team plays Saturday at the Kickapoo JV Tournament, while the freshman team plays Tuesday at Rock Bridge.