One week earlier, the Mountain Grove Lady Panthers’ volleyball ended a decade long drought when they won the South Central Association (SCA) Conference title.
This past week, they ended another 10-year drought when they won the Class 3, District 11 championship with a 3-1 victory over Forsyth in the finals match played at Hollister High School.
Mountain Grove’s win helped them avenge a district finals loss to the same Forsyth team a season ago.
“I have no words,” said Mountain Grove head coach Ashley Martin. “This is what we prepared for all year.”
“I’m super excited we won districts,” said Mountain Grove’s lone senior Reagan Hoerning. “…After that Liberty match, I think our confidence grew a lot. Our team likes to call it hype energy…and we came together as a team.”
In the first set, Forsyth jumped out to an early 5-1 lead.
Raylee Stenzel then picked up a pair of kills to cut the lead later to 7-5.
The remainder of the first set looked like a pair of heavyweight boxers going toe-to-toe as there were several lead changes.
Kailyn Wake had a big block and a Stenzel ace eventually led to Mountain Grove tying the match at 10-10, causing Forsyth to call a timeout.
Wake’s kill later gave Mountain Grove their second lead of the match at 13-12.
Landry Golden had a touch shot late in the first set that gave her squad a 20-17 lead.
Forsyth would eventually tie things at 22-22 when Mountain Grove came out of a timeout with three straight points to win the set, 25-22.
During that stretch, Hoerning had a kill and an ace before Stenzel sealed the set with a kill of her own.
Forsyth would go on to score the first three points of set two.
Mountain Grove did tie the match at 7-7 before Forsyth scored four straight points.
Stenzel then had back-to-back kills.
Forsyth responded with another four points for a 15-10 edge.
Down 19-15, Hoerning had a big kill while Stenzel had two big blocks to help Mountain Grove score five straight points to go up 20-19.
Forsyth would rally to go up 24-23, but Mountain Grove received a big Stenzel kill to tie up the match.
Moments later, Hoerning had a big kill and Jozey MacPherson added a touch shot to seal the second set with a 28-26 win.
Mountain Grove did have an early lead in the third set.
Stenzel’s later kill gave her squad a 14-11 lead.
Both teams exchanged leads back and forth for most of the set when Hoerning’s kill was overturned, which would have given her squad a 21-20 lead.
Forsyth took advantage of the momentum swing as they would go on to win the third set, 25-22.
Forsyth then scored the first two points of the fourth set when arguably their best player went down with an injury.
Trailing 3-1, Mountain Grove then scored seven straight points.
Mountain Grove pushed their lead to eight and were up 22-14 at one time.
MacPherson’s set to Hoerning for a kill was good for the 24th point before an ace sealed a 25-18 win.
State Sectionals at Seneca
In state sectionals against a Seneca team that had just won the program’s first ever district title, it was a battle of wills in the first set.
Several lead changes took place early in the match.
The Lady Indians did go up 9-6 when Mountain Grove rallied with three straight to tie things up at 9-9. Sttenzel had a big kill during that stretch.
Seneca then had their own set of three points in a row followed by Mountain Grove doing the same thing to tie things at 14-14 on Stenzel’s service ace.
Down 21-18, Mountain Grove would score four points in a row behind two Stenzel kills to go up 22-21.
Wake’s big hit after a Seneca dig gave Mountain Grove a 24-22 edge.
Unfortunately, Seneca would score the next four points to win the first set, 26-24, as Mountain Grove was unable to pull the Lady Indians away.
In the second set, Seneca jumped out to a 5-1 lead. The Lady Indians began to pull away midway through the set with a stretch of six kills to go up 15-8.
The score was 24-15 when Mountain Grove put together a late rally behind Campbell Welch’s ace, a Hoerning kill and Stenzel’s touch shot.
The Lady Panthers stayed alive to make it, 24-22, before a Seneca kill finished off the second set, 25-22.
In the third set, Seneca jumped out to an 8-1 lead and had all of the momentum.
Mountain Grove would score four straight to make it a 12-8 set, but that would be as close as they would get.
Seneca cruised to a 25-12 third set win to advance into the state quarterfinals.
Mountain Grove did finish their magical year with a 29-8 overall record.
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