For the Jefferson City Lady Jays, Tuesday night had been a long time coming.
The Helias Lady Crusaders had won 10 consecutive volleyball matches against their crosstown rival, all in straight sets. Tuesday's match, however, went three sets, and the outcome was a different one for the Lady Jays.
Jefferson City continued its hot start to the season, defeating Helias 16-25, 25-22, 25-14 at Rackers Fieldhouse. It's the Lady Jays' first win against the Lady Crusaders since Oct. 24, 2013.
"We've been waiting for this for a long time," said Jefferson City libero Rylie Bohanan, one of seven seniors on the team.
The Lady Jays swept Helias during the 2013 season, and just like Tuesday, both of those victories required Jefferson City to overcome a first-set defeat to win in three sets.
"A message we've been talking a lot about with our kids is that we believe strongly the reason they're able to pull off nights like tonight is because of the belief that they have in each other," Lady Jays coach Lisa Hoffmeyer said.
The first set was an early struggle for Jefferson City. Of the Lady Jays' first six service attempts, three landed in the net and another landed beyond the back line.
Three additional Jefferson City errors during that stretch turned into an 11-6 lead for Helias.
"It was tough to gain momentum early," Hoffmeyer said. "Once a team as talented as them gets away from you, you make your job pretty tough on coming back."
With Helias leading 19-11, Annabelle Maassen had the serve for the Lady Jays. Helias returned the ball back over the net on one hit, and Maassen had to retreat toward the back line to keep the ball in play.
Maassen saved the ball and Jefferson City won the point, but Maassen fell backward on the play, landing awkwardly on her right wrist.
"I don't know what's wrong with it, but I had to stick it out for my teammates," said Maassen, who stayed in the match after having her wrist taped up. "You just gotta do what you gotta do and hope the adrenaline kicks in.
"I wanted to be in that game."
The Lady Crusaders picked up kills from Molly Bruns, Chapel Dobbs and Lauren Strope down the stretch to win their 21st consecutive set against the Lady Jays.
"The first set was probably the best we've played so far this year," Helias coach David Harris said. "We've been committing a lot of errors, and we only had five total errors in the first set. I thought maybe we had gotten over it, because we had been averaging 13 per set."
But the errors picked up for Helias in the second set, with four coming on the first five points.
Helias pulled back within one point, but Kayla Walters had back-to-back kills and Emily Houser served an ace, extending the Lady Jays' lead to 10-6.
Walters and Maassen each finished with a match-high 10 kills.
"It was nice that we were consistent across the court," Hoffmeyer said. "We got to use our right-side attack a little bit, our middles scored a couple points for us. That's just something we've been training a ton with those kids."
Jefferson City stretched its lead to 17-11, but Helias battled back. Lacey Heidbrink had four straight service points to tie the score at 19.
But Rhakala Blackmon tipped the ball over the net on the next point, and a Helias error put Jefferson City back on top 21-19. Walters and Maassen each added a kill and Sarah Linthacum recorded a block on the final point to force a third set.
Linthacum had a match-high five blocks.
"We made it tough for them to gain momentum on their side," Hoffmeyer said. "You make an attacker start thinking a whole lot harder about what she's trying to do with the ball after you shut somebody down a couple of times."
The third set started as a back-and-forth battle, with four ties on the first 12 points. A block by Maassen gave Jefferson City a 12-10 lead, and it gave the serve to Bohanan.
That's when the set became a one-sided affair, as Bohanan reeled off seven straight service points, including an ace, to give the Lady Jays a more comfortable lead at 19-10.
"I don't think we've had a match yet where she hasn't gone on at least a five-point run with her serve," Hoffmeyer said. " We know we can count on her to be consistent, hit her spots and score some points on the service line. It's a nice luxury."
Jordan Benward snapped the run with a kill, but the eight-point deficit was as close as Helias would get.
Linthacum had back-to-back tips into the Helias open court to make the score 22-12. Walters then recorded kills on the Lady Jays' final two points to win the match.
Walters' last kill was a two-handed attempt that cleared the Helias back line, landing in-bounds with plenty of room to spare. It only took a few seconds before she was swarmed by the rest of her teammates on the court in celebration.
"It means everything for me to get to watch them enjoy this moment," Hoffmeyer said.
Paige Reeser finished with 26 assists for the Lady Jays, while Maassen and Sydney Vogt recorded nine and eight digs, respectively. Bohanan had 14 service points and three aces.
Bruns led Helias with nine kills and Dobbs added six kills. Claire Bonnot and Landrey VanOverschelde each had 14 assists.
Heidbrink had 19 digs and eight service points, Annica Luebbering had 14 digs and seven service points and Cate Albertson finished with three blocks.
"I'm proud of them for fighting back, they never gave up," Harris said.
Jefferson City (4-0) hosts Ozark — which has won 10 consecutive district titles — on Thursday at Fleming Fieldhouse. It will be another tough test for the Lady Jays, who also defeated defending Class 2 state champion Hermann earlier this season.
"We knew we had the tools in our toolbox," Hoffmeyer said.
Helias (1-2) plays Thursday at Hickman.
"We know our defense is going to keep us in rallies, we're going to have a lot of long rallies," Harris said. "We just have to be able to terminate, and tonight, Jefferson City won more of the long rallies."
In the JV match, Helias defeated Jefferson City 25-21, 25-20.
Beth Luebbert, Sydney Mingucci and Faith Ann Meyer each had four kills for the Lady Crusaders (4-3), while Grace Verslues had 10 assists. Mingucci had three blocks and Luebbert and Kendal Saucier each had seven digs.
Ada Humphrey had 12 digs and Abby Blake added 11 assists for the Lady Jays (1-3).
In the freshman match, Helias also won 25-13, 25-21 against Jefferson City.
Hannah Luetkemeyer tallied seven kills for the Lady Crusaders (2-1), while Hailey Stock finished with six assists. Keiara Jaegers had 10 digs and Ava Millard recorded 10 service points.