Blair Oaks wins 13th straight Tri-County volleyball championship

Blair Oaks setter Libby Juergensmeyer (left) serves the ball during Thursday night's Tri-County Conference match against Hallsville at Blair Oaks High School in Wardsville. (Greg Jackson/News Tribune)

WARDSVILLE -- Another year, another Tri-County Conference championship for the Blair Oaks volleyball team.

The Lady Falcons clinched at least a share of their 13th consecutive conference title Thursday night, sweeping the Hallsville Lady Indians 25-6, 25-17, 25-14 at Blair Oaks High School.

“It’s hard to believe that we’re back here doing it,” said Blair Oaks coach Danielle Lueckenhoff, who was a player for the Lady Falcons when their conference title streak began. “The girls showed up tonight and it feels good to take it.”

Thursday’s win also extended the Lady Falcons’ streak to 63 consecutive wins in conference matchups.

“It’s really rewarding,” Blair Oaks senior setter Libby Juergensmeyer said. “It’s really fun to go out and win it again for everybody.”

Hallsville won the first three points of Thursday’s match. After that, the Lady Indians only had seven service points the remainder of the match.

“It was a little slow there in the start, but we made that our focus and the girls turned it around,” Lueckenhoff said.

Autumn Bax had a block and a kill in Blair Oaks’ 6-0 run to retake the lead in the first set. Bailey Braun added five kills during a 15-1 run to end the set.

“I’m really proud of the girls for going in there and trying out some of those dynamic offense plays,” Lueckenhoff said. “We don’t always get that opportunity in a game-like situation.”

The Lady Falcons never trailed in the final two sets, clearing their bench to get the rest of the varsity players ample playing time.

“Tonight was especially important for getting some of those other girls in our rotation,” Lueckenhoff said.

Gabby Horn was one of the few starters who remained on the court the whole time. She recorded all eight of her kills in the second set.

“She’s been working really hard with our setters and connecting with them,” Lueckenhoff said.

Chloe Heislen came off the bench to finish with six kills for the Lady Falcons.

“Going in is one thing, but making things happen while you’re in there is even bigger,” Lueckenhoff said. “All of our players that came off the bench tonight did that.”

Alison Sporleder also commanded the offense at times, substituting into the match for Juergensmeyer, an all-state setter.

“Tonight was a great tempo for her,” Lueckenhoff said.

Hallsville committed nine attack errors in the first set, then finished with just seven in the final two sets combined. However, the Lady Indians struggled to put together a run, and the Lady Falcons used a 10-4 advantage in the third set to take a 14-7 lead after an ace by Abbey Heckman.

Braun placed the ball on Hallsville’s back line for a kill, widening the lead to 21-11. Heislen then accounted for three of the Lady Falcons’ final four points on kills.

Refocusing on a team goal -- winning the conference -- was helpful in the Lady Falcons bouncing back from Tuesday’s three-set loss to Jefferson City.

“Tuesday was a tough game,” Juergensmeyer said. “We didn’t play to our best potential.”

Juergensmeyer, who finished with 21 assists, joined her older sisters, Ali and Molly, in extending Blair Oaks’ conference title streak.

“I’ve watched my sisters over the years, so I’ve gotten to learn the game a lot from them,” Juergensmeyer said. “It’s really rewarding to see them cheer me on after I used to cheer them on when I was younger.”

Bax led the Lady Falcons with 12 kills, followed by Braun with nine kills and 10 digs. Amber Samson also tallied eight digs.

Jenna Keffer and Mila Perez each had five kills for Hallsville (5-7-1, 0-3 Tri-County).

Blair Oaks (14-4-1, 5-0 Tri-County) can win the Tri-County title outright Monday at Southern Boone. Before that, the Lady Falcons play this weekend in the Lutheran: St. Charles Tournament.

In today’s pool-play action, Blair Oaks faces Villa Duchesne at 4:15 p.m., Visitation Academy at 5:45 p.m. and Fort Zumwalt North at 7:15 p.m. The Lady Falcons will have two bracket-play matches Saturday.

“We really want to work on covering our block a lot more,” Juergensmeyer said. “Defense is always something we have struggled with. And we want to work on having more energy on the court, boosting each other up when we’re down.”

In Thursday’s JV match, Blair Oaks defeated Hallsville 27-25, 25-15 to improve to 11-2-1. Kendall Wood and Sarah Sandbothe had 13 and 10 digs, respectively, Anna Prenger had four assists and Maddy Jones had three kills.

Blair Oaks won 25-20 in a one-set freshman match, making its record 10-6-2. Hattie Meldrum had five digs, Morgan Wilde had four assists and Emilynn Troy had two kills.