Strafford volleyball finishes runner-up in Class 3

By Jacob Cersosimo & Chris Parker

Strafford volleyball’s quest for the program’s first state championship ended with a 3-0 loss to Blair Oaks in the Class 3 state championship match on Friday.

Strafford came out strong in the first set against the Falcons taking a 7-2 lead early and forcing a Blair Oaks timeout. Blair Oaks went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 10-8. Then the Falcons hung around pushing the score to a 15-13 Strafford advantage. It was at that point that Blair Oaks put the hammer down and scored 12 of the final 14 points, including nine in a row, to take set one 25-17.

“They (Blair Oaks) played lights out today. They were in system a lot. They were consistent. They ran a fast tempo offense and we just couldn’t quite get things going the way we wanted them to go,” Strafford head coach Ashely Bough said.

That lights out play continued in the second and third sets. Strafford never held a lead in either set losing by scores of 25-16 and 25-18. The Indians had no answer for Blair Oaks’ Autumn Bax who had 16 kills in the match.

“I am so proud of these kids event though today didn’t end the way we wanted to,” Bough said. “I am still super proud of them for getting where they are. A lot of teams would like to be here and I am proud of them for doing that.”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE MATCH

Christa Duffel led Strafford with nine kills. Abby Chadwell had 18 assists for the Indians while also leading the team in digs with 10.

Strafford finishes with a 30-4-3 record in a season that started back on Aug. 28 in the Branson tournament where the Indians went 1-1-2, but came away knowing something special was possible.

“After our first tournament this year we knew that we had potential, but we knew that we had a lot of work to do. These kids bought into to what the coaching staff was giving to them and what they wanted them to do in order to improve. They really worked hard to do that. We had ups and downs this season. They fought through a lot of games where we were behind and we came back or lost a second or third set and came back and rallied. I am just so proud of them for not only being great volleyball players but being great teammates to one another. I really felt like that set us apart at the end of the year,” Bough said.

Strafford will now take their state runner-up trophy, the third in program history, back home to celebrate with a community that was there supporting them throughout the season.

“It is a whole community effort. It is not just our team. We all received so many texts and messages saying ‘we will be there to support you’. I am just proud to say I am from Strafford. I am proud of our community. Win or lose I am glad we get to go home to those people,” Bough said.

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