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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Following clutch victory, College Heights set for sectional showdown with Miller

Jason Peake


The College Heights Christian volleyball team hadn’t fared well in five-set matches during the regular season.

In fact, the Cougars had lost all four contests that went to five sets.

But on Monday, the Cougars came through in the clutch and won the most important five-set match of the 2021 campaign. 

Top-seeded College Heights edged second-seeded Jasper 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-27, 25-17, 17-15) in the championship match of the Class 1 District 9 volleyball tournament. 

After winning the five-set thriller, the Cougars are now set for a sectional showdown.

College Heights (17-13-2) will take on Miller (30-3-1) at 6:30 on Thursday night at Ozark Christian College in a sectional contest of the Class 1 state tournament.

The Cougars definitely survived and advanced on Monday. It’s safe to say the district title match was a back and forth nail-biter. 

“It was a really great battle,” College Heights coach Mary Colin said. “Both teams played really well. There were lots of long rallies. Jasper is strong offensively and they kept powering through our blocks. We had to tighten up our block and we did that by the end of the match. We also had to sharpen up our offense. We came out more powerful in the second half of the match. It was a great battle back and forth. And it was a nice win for sure.” 

CHC was trailing 12-7 in the deciding fifth set. After a sideout, CHC’s Lindsay Griesemer served six points in a row to put the Cougars in front. There were ties at both 14 and 15 before the Cougars recorded the final two points.

Colin credited Griesemer for overcoming an injury.

“Lindsay injured her thumb during the match and she was in a lot of pain,” Colin said. “But she got taped up and finished the match. It was awesome to see her stick it out.”

It’s College Heights’ second straight district championship. A year ago, the senior-laden Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals before suffering a season-ending setback. 

College Heights lost seven seniors to graduation and entered the fall with many newcomers in key roles. 

Juniors Addie Lawrence, Lauren Ukena, Ava Masena, Marley Woodford and Griesemer, sophomore Maddy Colin and freshman Libby Fanning make up CHC’s starting lineup. 

Lawrence, Ukena and Griesemer are outside/right-side hitters, while Fanning and Whitford are middle hitters. Masena is the libero and Maddy Colin is the team’s setter. 

“It’s been really exciting to watch this group grow all year,” Colin said. “For a lot of them, this is their first year of varsity high school volleyball and the first time they’re playing all the way around in five-set matches. It’s been fun to watch them grow. Our competition this year has been tough. Our girls have played a lot of experienced teams and have competed well.”

Colin added the Cougars, who have no seniors, have made steady progress throughout the season. 

“Whether it’s serve location or tempo or pass location or hit location, there have been improvements all year,” Colin said. “Consistency was what we wanted and is what we worked for all year. And with a super tough schedule, that pushed us to stay consistent and stay aggressive against tough teams. We took some losses, but they were good for us. They helped us stay competitive and consistent.” 

Miller defeated Greenfield 3-0 (25-14, 25-6, 25-10) on Tuesday for the District 10 championship. 

The Cardinals are on a 13-match winning streak. The two teams did not meet during the regular season. 

“Miller is a solid team and we will have to play our best to compete,” Colin said. “We’re the underdog, but I think it’s fun to be the underdog. I’m excited to see if we can give them a run for their money.” 

The CHC-Miller winner will advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet either Midway or Osceola on Saturday at a site to be determined.



In other sectional contests of local interest on Thursday, Joplin is at Nixa in Class 5, Webb City is at Logan-Rogersville in Class 4 and Diamond hosts Skyline in Class 2. 

Thursday’s winners will advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals. 


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