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Jackson volleyball falls in quarterfinals following fourth-straight district title

Jackson junior libero Holland Guilliams (middle) tries to rally her team during the Class 5 State Quarterfinal at Lafayette (Wildwood) on Saturday. Photo by Nick McNeal

After shutting out its three opponents to win the Class 5 District 1 Championship, the Jackson volleyball team failed to win a set over Lafayette (Wildwood) in Saturday’s state quarterfinal.

Despite this, the Indians head coach Dave Mirly was proud of how his team finished the season against the team he predicts to win the Class 5 state title. Jackson fell to last year’s state champions Cor Jesu 3-0 in sectionals.

Jackson fell to Lafayette in the first set 25-15, but it came back and led for the first half of the second set to at one point lead 12-8. The Indians eventually fell 25-18 in that set, though, as they then dropped the third and final set by a score of 25-17.

“Our girls are always going to battle, and they’re never going to back down,” Mirly said. “Our girls rebounded in the second set and went up big, so that was a testament to how tough our kids are. I’m so proud of them for that.”

Statistically, Jackson was led by the team’s second-year starter at libero junior Holland Guilliams, who recorded a match-high 15 digs. This was the 19th and final time Guilliams came up with double-digit digs in a single game to have recorded a team-high 396 digs this fall.

Along with leading Jackson in digs, Holland has recorded a serve-receive total of 2.09 (635-1,329) while recording a 97% serve percentage, 200-plus service points and 37 aces.

“Everyone on the court, everyone on the bench and everyone in our program has a great deal of respect for Holland,” Coach Mirly said. “She’s truly in it for everybody else — she’s a little spitfire out there with a bundle of energy. She’s also the emotional glue that holds all of us together out there because she’s always calm, cool and collected.”

Leading Jackson’s offensive attack was none other than senior setter Kamryn Link, who produced a team-high 20 assists. Link also tied Indians junior Nadia Wasi-lewski with a team-high five blocks, and Kamryn also had three digs. She finished the season with a team-high 711 assists while also having 44 blocks.

“Link has done so many wonderful things for us from running our offense to her blocking and ability to play the ball out of the net or above the net — she’s exceptional,” Coach Mirly said. “She’s going to go off to college some place wherever she decides to go and has a great, bright future.”

On top of tying Link for the most blocks, Wasilewski, who fields an offer from Southeast Missouri State, led the Indians in kills with eight. Nadia finished the season as Jackson’s leader in total blocks with 87.

Pacing Wasilewski in kills versus Lafayette were sophomore Katy St. John and junior Ella Domian as they each had five. The trio of Domian, St. John and Wasilewski finished the season as Jackson’s top-three leaders in kills.

St. John broke her own single-season, school-record kills total with 398 this fall, while Domian finished with the second most at 270 and Nadia the third most with 242. Katy recorded a total of 19 double-digit kill games, while Domian had eight of her own.

“We’ve been able to attack teams game in, game out and doing to teams what Laf-ayette did to us today very well,” Mirly said. “We’ve also done great at hitting out-of-system balls.”

Even though their season is now over, these Indians helped Jackson win its fourth-straight district championship and record a third consecutive season of 30 wins or more. Link is the only starter the Indians won’t return next year.

Other key returners for Jackson in 2023 will be juniors Sydnie Floyd, Charlee Koepp, Grace Newell and Christa Vandeven.

In the Class 5 District 1 Championship match to beat Northwest 3-0, Floyd recorded a team-high 14 kills, while Wasilewski paced her with 10 kills and recorded a team-high six blocks. Domian and St. John each had eight blocks as Guilliams produced 12 digs, 12 service points and three aces.

“We are at a point in our program where I can bring my team to Lafayette for a quarterfinal against the No. 1 team in the state, and before they got off the bus, they believed they were going to win,” Mirly said. “There aren’t many teams in the state that will walk into this gym believing they’re going to win. Next year’s team is going to believe the same thing, and the year after that they’re going to believe the same thing.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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