Hegerle rolls ankle, socks V-Hawks at nationals

Kalli Hegerle left a Division I volleyball program in 2020 for a shot at helping the University of Jamestown win its first NAIA national team championship of any kind.

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University of Jamestown's Kalli Hegerle (12) stands with teammates, Nicole Schmitz, left, and Jayla Ritter (5) Saturday, April 10, 2021, during the GPAC Conference Championship game held at the Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Kalli Hegerle left a Division I volleyball program in 2020 for a shot at helping the University of Jamestown win its first NAIA national team championship of any kind.

Two points into Tuesday's national tournament pool-play match facing Viterbo University in Sioux City, Iowa, Hegerle went down.

Her left foot landing on Viterbo's Kenzie Winker, who inadvertently came under the net, the Jimmies' star junior transfer and starting right-side hitter took the brunt, rolling her ankle.

"I just remember thinking, 'Are you kidding me?'" Hegerle said. "Steph (Nunez), our trainer, got me all taped up and I just said, 'I'm going back in, Steph.'

"She said, 'I know.'"


Amped by adrenaline on the national stage, Hegerle's sheer ability took over. Her career-high 23 kills inspired the No. 1-ranked Jimmes to a 3-2 victory over the V-Hawks, as the Jimmies overcame a 2-1 match deficit.

Hegerle's 23rd kill cradled a 14-13 UJ lead in the deciding fifth set, and a service error sent into the net by Viterbo freshman Cassidy Spies ended a thrilling opening match at Sioux City's Tyson Events Center.

Jamestown (28-1) will finish pool play Wednesday morning facing No. 15 University of Providence, Montana, at 10:30 a.m. Hegerle said she'll have her ankle ready to go.

"It'll be fine," she said. "I think (Nunez) said she's gonna try to massage some of the fluid out ... just ice and rest."

Hegerle returned to set 1 with the Jimmies leading 12-11, and UJ would eventually win the opener 25-23. But Viterbo largely dominated the next two frames, winning both by the score of 25-19, led by senior All-American right side Maya Robert's 19 kills in the match.

The Jimmies and the V-Hawks have a history dotted with Viterbo victories as former rivals in the North Star Athletic Association. The Jimmies moved to 3-12 against the V-Hawks, last beating Viterbo 3-0 at the national tournament in 2018, a match that was later scored a win-by-forfeit due to play eligibility sanctions taken against Viterbo by the NAIA.

After getting off to a slow start this season, Viterbo (14-9) won a seventh-straight NSAA tournament title and is appearing in an eighth national tournament.

"We were just so out of character in those first three sets," said UJ women's volleyball coach Jon Hegerle, Kalli's uncle. "Just not passing well, not defending well, letting balls drop. Not running the stuff we run.


"Just, 'What is going on?'"

The Jimmies briefly led the second 5-4, prior to the V-Hawks rattling off a 7-1 run and never looking back. Viterbo freshman Grace Rohde sprinkled in two of her 10 kills in the run, and four UJ attack errors stung.

A similar 7-2 Viterbo spurt in set 3 expanded a two-point V-Hawks' cushion to 20-14, and this time UJ's serving was a contributing factor. A pair of Jimmie service errors were stacked with two more hitting miscues and a pair of Roberts kills.

Just like that, the Jimmies' were on life support after eventually going down in the match by two games.

"A lot of it had to do with they just put so much pressure on us, serving and hitting," coach Hegerle said. "When that happens you're sitting back a little bit and you serve soft and then that just makes it worse.

"We challenged our players to be more aggressive and take some risks and in set 4 we started doing that. We got into our groove and got into our comfort zone."

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University of Jamestown's Kalli Hegerle (12) hammers one of her nine kills past Mayville State's Elora Passa (14) and Ashley Pyburn (17) at Harold Newman Arena on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. Michael Savaloja / The Sun


Seven kills by the coach's niece helped UJ open up a 16-10 gap in a convincing 25-15 UJ victory in the fourth. The Jimmies made just one attacking error on 35 attempts in the frame and hit .457.

"I think there were some nerves right away," Kalli Hegerle said. "We started serving tougher and I think that got them out of system."

The Jimmies were also winning longer rallies, which usually favor the Jimmies' top-ranked athleticism but went the way of the V-Hawks early. UJ jumped out front 3-0 in the finale, and an 11-volley kill by the Jimmies' Jayla Ritter four points later spelled what felt like the beginning of the end.

"That's so deflating for the other team," coach Hegerle said. "Viterbo gave us everything they had. We survived today. That was survival."

Survival Kalli, and a swollen left ankle, made possible.

"For her to come out and play like that? She had some huge blocks as well," Hegerle said. "She was certainly the player of the game."

The junior hitter deflected most of the credit to her teammates. UJ's Corina Huff and Taylor Sabinash each finished with 10 kills, setters Jackie Meiklejohn and Megan Gaffaney combined for 59 assists, and senior libero Sydney Ellingson turned in 29 digs.

Ritter, a junior middle, finished with six block assists and four total blocks.


"All credit to my teammates," Kalli said. "The setters spread out the offense so well and our middles threw the blocks super well so I only had one (defender) a lot of times.

"Honestly, I've never wanted to win more in my life."

The Jimmies will be back on the court in less than 24 hours to face the Providence Argos, a team that would've entered Tuesday unbeaten if not for a pair of five-set losses at the beginning of the season. Providence (22-2) swept Viterbo 25-14, 25-22, 25-18 to continue Pool A competition Tuesday afternoon.

The top team in each of the tournament's eight pools will reach Thursday's single-elimination quarterfinals, which comes down to the Jimmies and the Argos in Pool A tomorrow morning.

"None of our players except for Kalli really felt like they played to their potential today," coach Hegerle said. "Maybe that's just first found of nationals and playing a tough team, who knows? But we're just gonna praise God we were able to survive that and go and watch Providence (later) today."

Jamestown, making its fifth consecutive appearance in the national tournament, reached the semifinals last season without the best player on the court Tuesday.

"We always talk about focusing on us and how we're playing, and I think that was one thing that helped us in the fourth and fifth sets," Kalli said. "We were just playing our game and I think carrying that into tomorrow is going to be super important."

NAIA Women’s Volleyball


National Tournament Pool Play

At Sioux City, Iowa

Pool A

April 27

(1) University of Jamestown 3, (17) Viterbo University (Wisc.) 2

VU 23 25 25 15 13

UJ 25 19 19 25 15

VU -- Kills: Maya Roberts 19, Kenzie Winker 15, Grace Rohde 10, Katie Frohmader 8, Rekah Drevlow 7, Mariah Calkins 3, Lauryn Sobasky 2, Abbey Johnson. Assists: Sobasky 27, Johnson 26. Digs: Adrianna Reinhart 18, Johnson 13, Chloe Jackscht 11. Blocks: Calkins 2.5, Drevlow, Winker. Aces: Cassidy Spies 2, Sobasky, Reinhart, Jade Putz, Johnson.


Jamestown -- Kills: Kalli Hegerle 23, Taylor Sabinash 10, Corina Huff 10, Anna Holen 9, Jayla Ritter 9, Nicole Schmitz 7. Assists: Jackie Meiklejohn 31, Megan Gaffaney 28, Sydney Ellingson 2. Aces: Gaffaney, Schiele, Ellie Holen. Digs: Ellingson 29, A. Holen 18, Gaffaney 11, Schiele 9, Meiklejohn 8, Schmitz 4, Hegerle 2, E. Holen 3, Ritter 2. Blocks: Ritter 4, Hegerle 1.5, A. Holen 1.5, Schmitz, Sabinash, Huff.

Records: Jamestown 28-1. Viterbo 14-8.

April 27

Providence, Montana 3, Viterbo, Wisconsin 0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-18)

April 28

Jamestown (28-1) vs. Providence (22-2) (Mont), 10:30 a.m.

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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