The Jefferson R7 volleyball team did something that no other team in school history has done. They claimed the school’s first-ever state championship this past weekend at the Show-Me Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo. One of the big reasons that the Blue Jays won the state title was the play of senior Kirstyn Loyd.
Loyd had an outstanding season with 325 kills, 36 blocks, and 291 digs to help the Blue Jays to a 32-5-1 record this season. In the state title match against Hermann, she had 14 kills and 19 digs to pace Jefferson in a 3-1 victory over the Bearcats.
The Blue Jays advanced to the state semifinals last season and fell to Hermann in the semifinals before claiming third place. That loss proved to be something that the team used in this year’s trip back to the state semifinals as they knew what to expect.
“Once we beat Saxony in the quarterfinals, we started to think back on last year and knew that we did not place where we wanted to,” stated Loyd. “Getting back there this year, we knew that we wanted to win it. When we started playing in seventh grade, our assistant Coach Steve Horn asked us to make a list of what we wanted to accomplish between that point and when we graduated. We all said that we wanted to win state and we were able to check that final box this weekend. It was so amazing to be able to do that with my best friends.”
The motivation for this year’s state title run started after falling to Hermann in the semifinals last season. That motivation carried over into the summer workouts and the pre-season practices.
“Last year, Hermann definitely outworked us, and they were more prepared as they have been there before,” said Loyd. “Last year, we were excited to be there, and we may have overlooked a few things as we were happy to be there and did not know what to do with it. One of the things that coach Tara Fish said was Do you want to be the team that lost because someone outworked you and we all said no and that we want to be the team that will work harder and that we really can outwork a team to win. We all were together in workouts throughout the summer, and that really helped us. We are all never at home, we are always doing something and always wanting to be at the gym. We want Sunday practices, and later practices, and if we have short practices, we want to be in the weight room. We are always wanting to do something to make us better.”
The Blue Jays had seven seniors on the roster and all of them had considerable playing time during the season. With that many seniors, there are so many voices that are trying to lead the underclassmen. But with this group. Loyd and her teammates knew exactly how they wanted to split up those roles to be successful.
“Emma Breier, Paige Siebert, Ava Roth, and I have been together since our freshman year, so we knew the ropes going into this season as we played varsity last year,” stated Loyd. “We showed the other seniors that did not play varsity last year how things were done and how of the leadership that they may not have. The core thing in volleyball is the leadership on the court. If you do not have that, then things will not work. At times, we all will have different opinions about things, and we will always come together as a group to talk about them. It is like in the classroom when you are working on things, you come together and talk about it. That is how we are on the court. We work together and make sure that everyone is feeling like they are part of the team. I would not want to be a part of another senior group.”
One of the moments that will never be forgotten following the last point of the title match was Loyd and the other seniors coming together to celebrate. This is one thing that Loyd will always remember.
“It was absolutely amazing,” said Loyd. “I cried so many times because I was so excited and felt great pride in something that has been accomplished that we have worked for so many years to achieve.”
Playing on a state championship team and being successful in the classroom can be at times overwhelming. But Loyd knows the importance of being a student first as that will help her accomplish her goals.
“There are a lot of tears and stress,” said Loyd. “I have spent countless nights crying to my mom and dad, but at the end of the day, I know that it will get me somewhere and I feel as if it has put me in the right place. A lot of the senior girls are taking advanced classes which we wanted to do so that it pushed us in the classroom. I want to get into nursing, and I know that will be a lot heading into college. I am very organized and that has helped me get all my stuff figured out. I also talk with all my teachers as I want to communicate with them when I will be out of town for events. I also take a minute to chill and say to myself that I will get it done. It has been hard, but I am glad to say that I am very organized and can get things done.”
Loyd will be furthering her academic and volleyball career at Missouri Southern next year and will be going into the nursing field. Having a great nursing program and an outstanding volleyball team was a big part of her decision to attend there.
Congratulations to Kirstyn Loyd on helping Jefferson R7 win their first state title and on being named our HSSC/Scoops with Danny Mac Student-Athlete of the Week!
Jim Powers has been covering prep sports in the St. Louis area for 15+ years and a part of the Missouri State High School Activities Association Championship Broadcasts for the past 11 years. Powers is also a part of the Fox 2 Verlo Mattress Prep Zone Friday nights at 10:10 during the football and basketball seasons. If you have a prep sports story, please contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jim at @hssportscaravan