SHAWNEE – Morgan Borgstadt could sense the end was near.
When Heritage Hall called its first timeout of the third set, the junior middle blocker already had four kills while pacing Verdigris to an early 9-5 lead, and her competitive nature wasn’t about to let the Lady Chargers make a rally.
So, Borgstadt did what she has done to countless opponents throughout the season.
She killed their spirit with her unbridled intensity.
Smacking spike after spike after spike, Borgstadt tallied 10 of her 19 kills in the third set alone to send the third-ranked Lady Cardinals to a sweep of No. 6 Heritage Hall – 25-23, 28-26, 25-16 – in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Friday afternoon at the Shawnee High School Performing Arts and Athletic Center. She also finished with two blocks and an ace, all of which came in the second set.
Verdigris (30-10) plays No. 2 Regent Prep in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that match advances to the championship at 5:30 p.m.
“I told (my teammates), ‘This is our time. We need to push points right here. They’re getting down on themselves, so we need to push points,’” Borgstadt said. “My mindset was, ‘We have to win this, and we have to keep the intensity up.’ I just wanted to get to the second round. We’re taking this one game at a time, and we just need intensity.”
The Lady Chargers (19-12) came within two points on two occasions after that initial timeout (11-9 and 13-11), but Borgstadt ended both rallies. Heritage Hall finally succumbed to its fate when Borgstadt and fellow junior Logan Hamilton scored four-consecutive points to increase the Lady Cardinal lead to 20-12.
Hamilton, an outside hitter, scored the match point with a well-placed kill. It was the perfect followup to her set-ending ace in the second.
She finished with eight kills, three blocks and two aces in all.
“I think she handled the pressure really good,” Borgstadt said of Hamilton. “She helps out the team a lot. She has a good hit, and when she’s on – which she is most of the time – she can put it down.”
Verdigris survived two five-point surges from the Lady Chargers in the first set, letting a 23-18 lead slip away late. However, the final two points went to the Lady Cardinals via a Borgstadt kill and an error.
The second set was even more intense, for the teams battled to four set points before a decision could be reached.
Prior to that, Heritage Hall used a 6-2 run to build a 21-17 lead. Borgstadt brought Verdigris back from the brink, though, notching two kills and a block – alongside an ace from Madi York and an Avery Keeler block – before giving her team a 24-23 lead with an ace.
“I like the competitiveness,” Borgstadt said of the vigorous back-and-forth. “We need stuff like that just to prepare for whatever happens. When we get down like that, we have to come together and push points.”
However, the Lady Chargers managed to stay alive and temporarily stave off defeat again shortly thereafter following a Hamilton kill. They went on to gain a set point opportunity of their own at 26-25 after consecutive kills from Grace Shapard and Mackenzie Heightley.
It was Hamilton who would ultimately bring an end to the long set, though, serving up her second ace of the match moments after two errors gave Verdigris a 27-26 lead.
“The first two sets were two-point victories, and that was tough,” Lady Cardinals coach Caleb Horton said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ (Hamilton) started getting points instead of scraping it into the block, and Morgan, of course, did a nice high ball. Our serving got better. Oh my gosh, we missed so many serves the first two sets. It felt good to finally pull away there at the end. Once we started pushing, it was like, ‘Oh, this is going to happen. I’m feeling good about this now.’
“It felt good; way better than last year.”