GRETNA – Halie McArdle had just hammered home her 30th kill of the match to put the Dragons up 2-1 in the decisive fifth set of the B-7 substate match against Elkhorn South Saturday afternoon, and then the Storm blew through town.
Elkhorn South then rattled off 13 consecutive points to take control of the final set en route to a 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 23-25, 15-4 over the Dragons to claim a spot in next week’s state tournament.
With the win, the Storm improved to 20-13 and will face Lincoln Pius X in the first round of the state tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island. The loss, Gretna’s third this year to Elkhorn South, ended the Dragons’ season at 23-11.
After dropping the third and fourth sets, Elkhorn South coach Briana Ritter said her team changed its attacking philosophy to focus on placement rather than power and it paid off.
The McCardle kill put Gretna up 2-1 in the final set, but Emily Gregan answered with a kill of her own to tie it at 2-2. Gregan then got an ace block on McArdle to put the Storm ahead for good at 3-2. Alli Rogers followed with a tip kill over a triple-block by Gretna and Gregan did the exact same thing on the next point to put Elkhorn South up 5-2. Kelsey Green then got another solo block on McArdle, a 5-foot-9 sophomore drawing Division I interest, to push the Storm lead to 6-2.
Down the stretch, Gregan added two more of her team-high 21 kills for Elkhorn South while freshman Sarah Swanson delivered a pair of ace serves – the final one putting the Storm up 14-2. Gretna fought off two match points before a Leslie Booth kill ended it for Elkhorn South.