An outsider would have never known that a week ago Rachel Schiele was in the hospital.

“I am not saying it was Rachel’s doing that made things better, but it was sure nice to have her back on the court,” said JHS head volleyball coach Sara Hegerle. “Rachel just brings a different level.”

The third-year libero returned to the court Tuesday night to help the Blue Jays earn an opening-round WDA tournament win over sixth-seeded Bismarck St. Mary’s at Jerry Meyer Arena. Jamestown defeated the Saints 23-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-13 and will face second-seeded Mandan on Thursday. St. Mary’s will host Minot Thursday.

Schiele was in the hospital due to a sudden bout of appendicitis but is expected to finish out the season. The senior was cleared to play earlier on Tuesday.

“Rachel has been our libero for three years and there’s a reason for that,” Hegerle said. “She’s earned the respect of our team and just because she had surgery it doesn’t take her out of what we do. Her body healed itself and she’s ready to play.”

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Hegerle sat Schiele the first set, turning over the libero responsibilities to senior defensive specialist Kaylee Panchot.

The changes to the Blue Jays lineup made for a battle from the first points of the match. Set one saw 13 lead changes and 17 tied scores in the race to 25. Grace Hegerle didn’t take it easy on the visitors, drilling 12 past Madelyn Miller and the rest of the Saints’ defense.

Marissa Messer returned the favor with seven balls smashed.

The attacks from the Saints made for some defensive bobbles on the Jays’ side of the court, but even with a slew of Blue Jays in new positions one thing did not change: the true Blue Jay grit.

“We’ve been working in practice on not letting the ball hit the floor when we are playing any type of competitive game,” Hegerle said. “Overall I thought we just competed better.”

The score was tied at 21 apiece when Ella Roaldson put a two-minute rally to bed with a kill that may have taken the paint clean off the floor. Roaldson rallied at all three hitting spots ending with a team-high of 19 kills on the night. Prior to the regional tournament, Roaldson was sixth in the conference in total kills with 175, averaging more than 10 per match.

Jamestown's Katie Trumbauer and Haylie Hakanson (8) earn a block Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, at Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown's Katie Trumbauer and Haylie Hakanson (8) earn a block Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, at Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Roaldson’s rally was not enough to get the Blue Jays a win, but some changes to the lineup and energy made the shift for the home team.

Schiele helped to fuel a dynamic offense that took the wind out of St. Mary’s sails starting in the second. Schiele recorded 10 digs and was not afraid to dive and save the ball from the floor following her recent appendectomy.

Panchot did her part in the left-back, popping up 12 to setter Katie Trumbauer.

“It’s all good in there,” Schiele said with a smile as she patted her stomach. “Coming back just felt so good and I think our defense was really good and I think we won the serving-passing game, which is key to winning.”

The Jays dished out a huge 11-point run that would result in a 20-9 lead that the Saints could not overcome in the second. The momentum continued in the third set where Jamestown served up a couple of 4-0 and 5-0 runs that would end it 25-18.

Jamestown built a nine-point lead in the final set to make it 17-8. The Saints did not come within seven of the lead the entire set.

“They knew that they had to come out and fight because Jamestown is a big team,” St. Mary’s head coach Erica Trom said. “We have to just fix a couple of things and be ready for Thursday.”

Thursday is also slated to be a big night for Jamestown as the Jays have fallen twice to Mandan this season.

“Our plan is just to keep it going,” Hegerle said of the rest of the tournament. “Can we please just go play now?”

Jamestown 3, Bismarck St. Mary’s 1

SM 25 16 18 13

JHS 23 25 25 25

JHS -- Kills: Roaldson 19, Hegerle 12, Hunter Petersen 9, Katie Falk 7, Katie Trumbauer 2, Haylie Hakanson 2. Assists: Trumbauer 39. Digs: Panchot 12, Schiele 10, Hegerle 10, Trumbauer 9, Roaldson 7, Falk 7, Jenna Fischer 5. Aces: Falk 4, Panchot 3, Trumbauer 1, Hegerle 1. Blocks: Falk 2, Petersen 2, Hakanson 2, Trumbauer 1.

SM -- Kills: Eden Schlinger 8, Messer 7, Mykie Messer 7, Lydia Spies 6, Lauryn Hoesel 6, Avery Wanner 3, Brooke Haas 3, Gabbi Mann 2, Lauren Berger 1. Assists: Mann 17, Wanner 16. Aces: Spies 1, Mann 1, Schlinger 1, Mykie Messer 1.