On Saturday at the Event Center, Jackson volleyball’s hopes of making it to the state final four for the first time in school history were put to an end by the reigning Class 5 State Champions Lafayette Wildwood in three sets.
The Lancers made quick work of the Indians in the first set winning handedly at 25-6, but Jackson made it a respectable contest before bowing out of the 2023 campaign.
The Indians finished within 10 points of Lafayette by losing set two 25-16 but lastly falling 25-14 for their season, and this senior’s class time at Jackson, to come to an unfortunate end.
Leading the way offensively like she has for her entire career was senior outside hitter Nadia Wasilewski, who recorded a team-high six kills against the Lancers. Wasilewski, who is verbally committed to Wichita State, led the Indians with 332 kills in her final season.
Wasilewski has been a starter for Jackson ever since her feet first hit the Event Center floor as a freshman. Despite being down by a wide margin to Lafayette throughout the match and ultimately losing, Nadia and the rest of her team could be seen still having fun and smiling.
“Obviously Lafayette is really good, but that’s probably the best they’ve played all year,” Wasilewski said. “They were swinging hard, and we were doing our best, but we might as well have fun even if you know it’s going to be your last game.
“Make it a good one even if you’re getting killed — I had the best time of my life out there, and we still lost. It was a great time.”
Another future Division-I player in to-be Southeast Missouri State Redhawk senior libero Holland Guilliams, who’s started since day one like Nadia, led the back row with five digs. Seniors setter Payton Gannon and defensive specialist Charlee Koepp led the way in assists and aces with 10 and one, respectively.
Jackson is also graduating other future college volleyball players like seniors outside hitter Ella Domian (Maryville) and defensive specialist Grace Newell (John A. Logan).
These seniors won a combined 121 games, along with four district, four conference tournament and three regular-season conference championships over the past four years. Jackson finished with an overall record of 29-7-3, which extends the streak of winning 26 games or more to seven-straight seasons.
“I’m just proud of the team — the seniors,” Nadia said. “We’ve been playing together since we were tiny, and it’s so great to see us transform into such an amazing team. This is the closest thing I’ve had to a second family, and I don’t think I could’ve had a better four years of volleyball.”
To help Jackson win its fifth-straight district championship and the fourth and final of her career, Nadia eclipsed 1,000 kills for her career. Guilliams reached 1,000 career digs back in September and junior outside hitter Katy St. John, who fields an offer from SEMO, recorded her 1,000 career kills last month.
“There are going to be girls who get that on every team and girls who don’t,” Nadia said. “It’s great because we all support each other and no one’s jealous. Everyone’s lifting each other up, and I just think that’s what’s so great about us — how much of a team we are and how much we genuinely do care about everyone.”