The Helias Lady Crusaders were in a familiar spot.
The Jefferson City Lady Jays had the momentum Tuesday night at Rackers Fieldhouse, winning the second set and holding a lead in the third. But Helias wouldn't let history repeat itself.
One night after letting a two-set lead against Hermann slip away, Helias didn't let its crosstown rival hold onto the momentum, as the Lady Crusaders finished strong for a 25-11, 18-25, 25-17, 25-19 win in Central Missouri Activities Conference volleyball play.
Afterward, Helias coach David Harris said nothing has come easy this week for the Lady Crusaders, who played nine sets spanning two nights.
"During a timeout, the girls were saying we were down by more than this last night, and we came back," Harris said. "They did a good job of keeping their composure, even when everything was going right for Jefferson City and nothing was going right for us."
Helias dominated in the first set at the net, tallying 16 kills. Chapel Dobbs had eight kills on 10 attempts for the Lady Crusaders, as she finished with a match-high 20 kills.
"You're not going to lose many sets if you get 16 kills," Harris said.
During one timeout in the first set, Jefferson City coach Ali Eskens emphasized her team didn't look like it was ready to receive the ball. The Lady Jays were ready in the second set.
"We came out a little bit flat, but they really responded well to that," Eskens said. "That's really hard to do in this sport, to be able to come back from a loss like that first set."
Claire Stegeman and Maddie Mitchell had kills to give Jefferson City a 3-0 lead in the second set. Helias battled back and took a 10-8 lead, but an ace by Stegeman put the Lady Jays back in front.
After the ace, Jefferson City went on an 8-2 run, leading to a Helias timeout at 19-12.
"I probably should have called a timeout sooner," Harris said. " Sometimes I just want them to work it out on their own without having to call a timeout."
Helias had four errors during that run, but Jefferson City also picked up back-to-back kills from Mitchell and Stegeman. The Lady Crusaders got within four at 19-15, but Nola Borgmeyer had two kills down the stretch for the Lady Jays and Stegeman ended the set with a kill, evening the match at 1.
"We have to have that fire and we have to have that energy," Eskens said. "We have to have that effort 100 percent of the time. We can't let balls hit the floor, we can't make the same mistake more than once.
"In that second set, we did a really good job of terminating plays and limiting our unforced errors."
The Lady Jays carried that momentum into the third set, taking a 6-2 lead behind kills from Stegeman, Mitchell, Borgmeyer and Hannah Linthacum.
Helias began to turn the corner with a kill on a free ball by Summer Hake. Lauren Strope added a block, and after two Lady Jay attack errors, Tori Schmidt served an ace to put the Lady Crusaders in front 12-11.
"During the second set and early in the third set, they won most of the long rallies," Harris said. "But after that, we started to win some of those."
Helias ended the third set on a 10-2 run, scoring its last four points on kills by Jacie Buschjost, Dobbs and Hake.
"One of our sayings is, 'Start fast, finish strong,'" Harris said. "Another thing I tell them is, 'Winning is simple, but it's not easy.'"
It wasn't easy in the fourth set, as Helias led 5-2 after a block by Sydney Mingucci, but Jefferson City came back to tie it at 10 on a kill by Stegeman.
"Jefferson City was doing everything right," Harris said.
The set was tied again at 12 and 13, but the Lady Jays reeled off four consecutive attack errors, the last three coming on spikes that landed beyond the back line.
"It's too fast of a sport to rattle off that many in a row," Eskens said. "We have to find a way to score without making errors."
The Lady Jays cut the deficit to 16-15, but Helias pulled away late, ending on a 3-0 run with a kill by Faith Ann Meyer, an ace by Grace Verslues and a kill by Dobbs.
"It was good for us to have to fight and have to compete for every single point," Harris said. "We talk about that all the time, but it's hard to replicate that in practice."
Recording double-doubles for Helias were Landrey VanOverschelde (29 assists and 15 digs), Verslues (13 assists and 10 digs) and Buschjost (10 kills and 21 digs).
Annica Luebbering had 18 digs, followed by Beth Luebbert with 15.
Linthacum led the Lady Jays with eight kills, followed by Stegeman with seven and Mitchell with six. Hannah Vogt had a double-double with 15 assists and 14 digs, Abby Blake recorded a team-high 27 digs and Mitchell added 14 digs.
"This team that played tonight, compared to the team at the beginning of the season, are two very different teams," Eskens said. "We played some good volleyball tonight."
Helias (21-8-2, 5-1 CMAC) plays Thursday at St. Francis Borgia (25-2), the sixth-ranked team in Missouri by MaxPreps.
Jefferson City (11-11, 2-2 CMAC) will continue conference play Thursday at Hickman.
In the JV match, Helias defeated Jefferson City 25-8, 25-8 to improve to 20-7-1.
Libby Gaines and Mary Lloyd each had five kills for the Lady Crusaders, while Addy Bryant had 10 assists and Izzy Herrbold had 15 digs.
Helias also won the freshman match 25-18, 16-25, 25-20, moving to 15-8.
Reese Herigon led Helias with 31 digs, while Ellie Lock had five kills, Lexie Bruns had seven assists and Alyssa Muenks had two blocks.