WARDSVILLE -- It was Maddie Mitchell’s world Tuesday night, and everyone else was living in it.
The Jefferson City junior right-side hitter/setter nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 13 kills, 11 assists and nine digs to lead the Lady Jays to a 25-22, 25-15, 25-23 sweep of the Blair Oaks Lady Falcons at Blair Oaks High School.
“She has grown tremendously and she is a key player for us at all times,” Jefferson City coach Ali Eskens said. “She came out ready to go tonight and she did really well.”
Mitchell also had a team-high six blocks, starting with a block on the first point of the match.
“Maddie played one of her best games tonight,” Eskens said. “I’m really proud of her.”
The first set was a back-and-forth battle, until Hannah Vogt gave the Lady Jays the lead for good with a kill to make the score 13-12. A set error by Blair Oaks, followed by a service ace by Vogt, an attack error by the Lady Falcons and a block by Mitchell widened the lead to 17-12.
“Both teams played really, really great,” Blair Oaks coach Danielle Lueckenhoff said. “We just had the most errors, and they were unforced errors at that.”
Blair Oaks fought off three consecutive set points, getting back-to-back kills from Gabby Horn and Libby Juergensmeyer. Bri Avey finished off the set with a kill, pushing the ball into the back corner of the court.
The Lady Falcons quickly fell behind in the second set, losing seven of the first eight points.
“That was critical for us,” Lueckenhoff said. “Digging out of an 0-5 hole is tough. We made some strides, but we were one step behind the whole set.”
Mitchell had four kills and Nola Borgmeyer added a kill, widening Jefferson City’s lead to 12-2 in the second set.
“It’s a game of momentum,” Eskens said. “You have to find it, you have to hold it and you have to protect it.”
The Lady Jays finished the second set with a kill on a setter dump by Mitchell and an ace by Borgmeyer to lead 2-0.
Blair Oaks came out strong in the third set, taking a 6-3 lead on back-to-back blocks by Abbey Heckman. The Lady Jays scored points on five blocks in the first two sets, but the Lady Falcons’ attack was now starting to get through in the third set.
“We were caught off-guard by their tough blocks in set one and set two,” Lueckenhoff said. “That was definitely an area of growth for us in that set.”
Back-to-back kills by Juergensmeyer and Autumn Bax kept Blair Oaks in front 17-13, leading to Eskens calling a timeout.
“I told them, ‘This is the point where you have to decide, we’re going to go one way or the other,’” Eskens said.
The Lady Jays did not want to extend the match to a fourth set.
“You don’t want to open that door,” Eskens said.
A pair of kills by Lydia Gudde cut Jefferson City’s deficit to 22-20. Blair Oaks got the serve back following a kill by Juergensmeyer, but the Lady Jays scored the final five points -- three of them recorded by Mitchell -- to rally for the sweep.
Vogt finished with 16 assists and nine digs, Borgmeyer had 11 kills and eight digs and Aydia Mayotte had a team-high 18 digs for the Lady Jays.
“Maddie was able to do those things because everybody else around her was doing their job,” Eskens said. “All week at practice, we said everybody has to be dialed in on their job.”
It’s the second straight season Jefferson City has swept the two-time defending Class 3 state champion.
“My girls came out ready to go tonight,” Eskens said. “They were focused, they were zoned in. We minimized our unforced errors, we limited their runs.”
Bax had a team-high 13 kills for the Lady Falcons, followed by Horn with 10 kills for the Lady Falcons. Juergensmeyer finished with 30 assists, Bax and Horn each had 10 digs to record double-doubles and Aubrey Sandbothe had three blocks.
Last season, the Lady Falcons went 17-1-1 following their loss to the Lady Jays. Blair Oaks (14-3-1) will go for its 13th straight Tri-County Conference title Thursday when it hosts Hallsville. The freshman match starts at 5 p.m., followed by the JV and varsity matches.
“We cannot dwell on this loss, it’s one game out of our whole season,” Lueckenhoff said. “I want this to be used as a growing opportunity for us.”
Jefferson City (9-7) will continue non-conference play Thursday with a home tripleheader against Fatima. The freshman and JV matches begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity match around 6:45 p.m. at Fleming Fieldhouse.
“We need to take this, we need to build upon it and we need to keep going,” Eskens said.
In the JV match, Jefferson City defeated Blair Oaks 25-19, 25-17.
Kendall Wood had 12 digs, Anna Prenger had five assists and Maddy Jones had four kills for the Lady Falcons, who dropped to 10-2-1.
Blair Oaks started the tripleheader with a 25-16, 28-26 win in the freshman/C team match. Blair Oaks improved to 9-6-2 and Jefferson City fell to 3-9.
Lydia Christian finished with eight kills, Mia Antweiler had eight assists and Hattie Meldrum added six digs for the Lady Falcons.