Bloomington Jefferson vs. Chaska

7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3

Bloomington Jefferson players might look back on their Sept. 19 five-set victory at St. Louis Park as the moment they first believed. In themselves. In their strength as a team. In their ability to overcome adversity.

Jefferson was just four points from leaving St. Louis Park with a 3-0 loss on its record. Instead, the Jaguars fought back to win the third set 29-27, then outlasted the Orioles 27-25 and 15-9 to finish the rally.

Coach Crystal Dohlman said she’s not surprised at her team’s accomplishment, just one year after a 13-16 season and two years removed from a 6-20 season.

“I think they learned more about themselves (in the victory),” Dohlman said. “As a coach, you can see what your players are capable of. The harder part is getting them to believe.”

And the Jaguars are believing they can win a Metro West Conference championship. Jefferson (12-6, 2-0) plays at Chaska (8-11, 3-0) on Thursday, and the winner will be the lone unbeaten in the league standings in the closing weeks of the regular season.

Sophomore hitters, and sisters, Ellie and Cassie Sieling lead the Jaguars’ attack. Senior setter Alicia Wendler controls the offense and leads a defense that refuses to let the ball hit the floor.

“They’re relentless,” Dohlman said. “They just will not let up. We have a practice rule that, unless you’re in imminent danger of getting hurt, you will not stop [on a play].”

Sophomore outside hitter Mallory Heyer and senior setter Hannah Polk lead the way for Chaska, which has played a rugged schedule that includes matches against top-10 powers Eagan, Northfield, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Shakopee and Wayzata.