LINCOLN – Omaha Marian and Papillion-LaVista took vastly different routes to the same destination Friday night at the 2014 NSAA Volleyball Championships at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Papillion-LaVista took a direct path to Saturday’s Class A finals with a convincing 25-20, 25-21, 25-11 victory over Millard West in one semifinal while Omaha Marian took the harrowing way, barely holding on for a 25-8, 25-18, 23-25, 16-25, 19-17 win over Lincoln Southeast in the other to reach the championship match.
After two sets in the Marian-Lincoln Southeast match, it looked like a done deal that the Crusaders would be defending their Class A title, but Lincoln Southeast stormed back – finding life and catching fire in the third set and ultimately forcing the fifth set.
In the fifth set, Lincoln Southeast jumped to an early 5-1, but kills by Marian’s Sophia Terwilleger, Kelsey O’Connell and Elizabeth Loschen cut that lead to 6-4. A combination block by O’Connell and Loschen followed by an ace block from O’Connell tied the score at 6-6.
The decisive fifth set remained tight the rest of the way with the score being tied at 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 before Lincoln Southeast got to a match point at 14-13 on a kill by Meagen Roth. O’Connell got a kill for Marian to tie it at 14 and then a Terwilleger kill gave Marian a match point at 15-14.
The Crusaders would have match point again at both 16-15 and 17-16 but hitting errors by Marian kept the match going on both occasions. It was a Lincoln Southeast hitting error that got Marian to match point at 18-17, and this time the Crusaders converted on a kill by Hannah Mueller to win the match and trigger a championship-like celebration on the court.
Terwilleger finished the night with 21 kills and 16 digs for the Crusaders while junior setter Maren McGuire was nearly flawless on the night with 65 assists, 23 digs, four kills and a block. Her 65 assists were just three shy of the all-time Class A record for most in a single match.
Unofficially, Marian junior libero Brittany Witt, a Creighton recruit, had 44 digs in the match – which would tie the all-time single match record in Class A history – which was set by Lizzy Bales of Lincoln North Star in 2012.
Roth finished with a team-high 15 kills for Lincoln Southeast and senior setter Kylee Wurster had 43 assists and 15 digs.
In the other semifinal, Papillion-LaVista didn’t get any record-breaking performances, but their performance sounded like a broken record as the Monarchs won for the 42nd time in a row this year and 43rd time overall dating back to last year’s third-place match at state.
Priscilla O’Dowd had 13 kills while Katie Stephens added 11 for the Monarchs and Jess Peters had 36 assists, 17 digs and 3 blocks. Millard West junior middle Cassidy Loberg had 16 of her team’s 33 kills on the night.
In Class B, defending champion Norris defeated Gretna 25-18, 25-19, and 31-29 in the evening’s last semifinal match. Maddy Bruder continued her outstanding state tournament with 20 kills and four blocks for the Titans and Kylie Hohlen added 16 kills and three blocks. Payton Ruhl had 39 assists and three kills. Halie McArdle’s 10 kills led Retna and Amanda Young added seven.
In the other Class B semifinal, Omaha Skutt ran its winning streak to 29 straight with a 27-25, 25-19, 25-13 victory over Elkhorn. Claire Knust had a team-high 13 kills for the Skyhawks and Brooke Heyne had eight. Claire Mountjoy and Lauren Edet led Elkhorn with five kills each.
In the Class C-1 semifinals, Ohio State recruit had one of the most dominating performances of the season for Omaha Concordia as the Mustangs beat Wahoo 25-21, 23-25, 25-11, 25-14.
Wickey went off for 33 kills and added three ace serves as Concordia reached the first state championship competition in school history. Sophomore Averey Yaksich added 16 kills and Victoria Jones had 18 digs. For Wahoo, Taylor Homes had eight kills and two blocks.
In the other semifinal, Kearney Catholic defeated Columbus Scotus 25-18, 25-23, 25-13 to reach the state finals for the fifth straight year. The Stars have won the past two Class C-1 state championships. Kylie Thiele had 12 kills for the Stars against Scotus while Morgan Stute had a team-high 19 digs and Allie Prososki had 44 assists. Sara Schumacher and Maeghan Pieper each had five kills to lead Scotus.
In Class C-2, there was a showdown of epic proportions in the semifinal match between Freeman and Hastings St. Cecilia. Besides being a rematch of last year’s state final – won by Hastings St. Cecilia – it was a clash of all-state players in Carley Remmers for the Falcons and Clare Hamburger for the Hawkettes.
Remmers seemed to get stronger as the match went along as Freeman was able to take a 25-16, 19-25, 26-24, 25-16 victory and reach the finals for the second straight year. Remmers finished the match with 25 kills, six blocks, three ace serves and 15 digs. Marissa Haynes added 16 kills and five ace serves.
Meanwhile, Hamburger proved why she is one of the state’s most versatile players, going for 21 kills, 20 digs and 11 assists, including one of the best back-set dumps of the year.
Freeman will take on undefeated Crofton in the championship match after Crofton defeated Guardian Angels Central Catholic 25-21, 15-25, 25-21, 25-21. Maria Wortmann turned in one of the top performances of the tournament with 28 kills and 18 blocks for Crofton while Kelsey Sanger added 13 kills and 18 digs.
For Guardian Angels, Jenny KNobbe had 12 kills and eight blocks while Kathleen Steuter had 11 kills and 18 digs. Jamie Petz finished with 38 assists.
In Class D-1, St. Mary’s won its 54th match in a row with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-6 win over Diller-Odell in the semifinals. Sydney Hupp led a balanced St. Mary’s attack with 10 kills while Riley Sibbel had eight kills and 10 digs. Diller-Odell got eight kills and three ace serves from Madison Jurgens.
In the other semifinal match, Ansley-Litchfield defeated Axtell 25-14, 25-13, 29-27. Lindsy Siegel stayed hot in the state tournament with a 21-kill performance that also included five blocks and 20 digs. Shawna Paitz added 12 kills and two blocks. For Axtell, Hannah Kring had a team-high 12 kills.
In Class D-2, we will have a rematch of last year’s state championship after Giltner defeated Exeter-Milligan 26-24, 25-21, 25-23 in one semifinal and Stuart held off Lawrence-Nelson 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13 in the other.
Chainey Tompkin had 11 kills and nine blocks for the Hornets – which beat Stuart in the finals last year – while Kelbie Lyon had 10 kills and one block. Jaclyn Happold had 30 assists. For Exeter-Milligan, Hailey Luzum had 13 kills and 10 digs.
For Stuart, Harlee Fischer had a monster match with 18 kills, six ace serves and 31 digs while Monique Schafer also had 18 kills and added 25 digs. Jaden Schafer finished the match with 52 assists. Carlie Mazour led Lawrence-Nelson with seven kills and 30 digs.