On Saturday, the Saxony Lutheran volleyball team fell two points shy of reaching what would’ve been its first-ever trip to the Class 2 Final Four.
In what was the third matchup between these two teams, the Crusaders fell to Jefferson (Festus) 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-17) to bring their season to an end in the state quarterfinals.
Saxony and Jefferson had faced off twice before heading into this third and final matchup. The Crusaders beat the Blue Jays 2-0 in the Dig For Life Challenge, while Jefferson beat Saxony 3-2 to finish the regular season.
Prior to that, the Crusaders handled Portageville 3-0 (25-11, 25-8, 25-16) in the sectional round, where senior Josey Wahlers recorded a match-high 13 kills and three blocks. Along with the win advancing Saxony to the state quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons, Wahlers eclipsed 500 career kills during the match.
“It’s just a really big milestone for me, and it’s something I can bring to our team,” Wahlers said.
Wahlers was also dominant in the Crusaders district championship match versus Scott City, tying for a game-high eight kills and coming up with a team-high five blocks. This performance helped Saxony win 3-0 to claim a record third-straight district championship.
“We all work together to be the team we are — there’s just so much team chemistry,” Wahlers said. “Being a part of this program is a really great thing, and I just love being with my teammates. I’ve brought a lot, and they’ve brought a lot, too.
“Anna Mueller has played since her sophomore year, and Clara [Brune] is in her second year. We just have so many players who are going to continue bringing Saxony volleyball to new heights.”
Tying Wahlers for the most kills against Scott City was junior Clara Brune as she also paced Josey with four blocks along with her eight kills. Brune had seven kills and two blocks against Portageville, but she sat out for the entire third set due to the Crusaders marginal lead.
“This summer, I just really tried to work my hardest to be the best version of myself that I can be coming back off an injury last season,” Brune said. “That injury really pushed me to do better this summer.”
Also leading Saxony’s offensive attack was junior Grace Ozark, who had seven kills versus Portageville and five against Scott City for the district title. Fellow junior Annie Adams came up with six kills in sectionals.
Having a match-high 26 assists against Portageville was sophomore Isabel Brown as teammate junior Landre Hoehne paced her with nine. Hoehne came up with 11 assists to Brown’s 14 in the district title game.
Defensively, junior defensive specialist Callie King and senior libero Anna Mueller have been leading Saxony in digs all season. King led both the district championship and sectional matchup in digs with 14 and 12, respectively. Mueller paced her both times with 10 digs versus Scott City and nine against Portageville.
“Callie and I hadn’t played together before, but we knew we had similar playing styles,” Mueller said. “Getting to play back there with her — another fantastic passer — is awesome. She’ll be diving for balls that I don’t see, and she’ll have me go for one of them that I thought she was going to go for. Our communication is key on defense.
Mueller first took over as libero her sophomore season and has since helped Saxony win three-straight district titles, including the most wins in program history with 26 this season.
“Seeing this program grow has been awesome —getting to lead everyone on the court and being vocal out there is something I take a lot of pride in,” Mueller said. “We’ve grown over this whole season and came in really strong already. Seeing the team chemistry that we’ve built is just amazing.”