BY WILL WILLEMS – SPORTS EDITOR
DOVER — The Western Boone volleyball team entered Tuesday night’s regional game against Northview, looking to snap a streak fourstraight seasons ending in the regional.
The Knights had different ideas. The visitors showed why they are the defending state runners-up, downing the Stars 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-13) to win the regional title.
“You could tell they had a little bit of an edge mentally on us,” Western Boone head coach Laura Lawson said. “They have been in these situations before. They are the defending second-place team and we haven’t got past the regional. They are used to winning these big matches and it showed.”
The Stars started off strong, taking a 3-1 lead, but Northview came back to tie the set at 5. The Knights then scored 11 of the next 15 points to take a seven-point lead and next led by less than six the rest of the way.
Lawson said on all of the big runs by Northview were set up by their serving.
“There serving let them separate,” Lawson said. “They had their two best servers in the middle of their runs. They were great zone servers and picked us apart. Our serve receive was the strongest part of our game tonight, but they kept us off balance.”
The Stars came out better in the second set.
The hosts led 11-9 and again at 12-11. But then a 7-0 run by Knights put them up six. A kill by Emma Rolf got the Stars within four, but back-to-back kills by Northview’s Morgan Stearley put the Knights up six and they closed the set from there.
Stearly provided headaches for the Stars’ defense throughout the match.
“Our block was definitely not what it could have been, should have been and what we have seen in the past this season,” Lawson said. “(Stearly) really threw us for a loop and it was a much faster tempo than what we expected. All of that threw us off.”
Northview closed the match out in the third set, taking a 5-1 lead and never leading by less than two the rest of the game.
The Stars got within 16-11 on a kill by Callie Gubera, but the Knights closed the match on a 9-2 run.
While disappointed to bow out in the regional for the fifth-straight year, Lawson said the Stars will continue to work on trying to get past this hurdle.
“We just have to keep having a tough schedule and play those competitive teams so we are used to these quality opponents,” Lawson said. “We have to continue to work on our mental toughness so we can dig deep.”
Gubera led the Stars with 10 kills.
Rolf had eight kills, while Claire Fuller had five kills and nine digs.
Lexie Raby had 23 assists and nine digs, while Madie Bright had eight digs.
The Stars finished the 21-15.
“We told the girls to remember Saturday night and the comeback to win the sectional,” Lawson said. “Especially the six seniors, they were such a fun group of girls. The six seniors set such a good example of work ethic, dedication, how they interact with the younger girls and they have been amazing for us.”
The six seniors — Bright, Fuller, Raby, Callahan Baxter, Kelsie Thacker and Emily Toney — have been instrumental parts of the Stars’ success the past several seasons.
Lawson said they have shown other girls in the program what it takes to be successful.
“All of our younger girls look up to them and has seen what they have accomplished and how they did it,” Lawson said. “The biggest thing is how they all play club, work on their games in the off-season and that effort is what is needed to be sectional and conference champs.’
WESTERN BOONE’S LEXIE RABY (left) and Callahan Baxter go up for a block Tuesday night.
WESTERN BOONE’S CLAIRE FULLER goes up for a kill between two Northview defenders.