Marian Bites Bulldogs This Time, Wins LPS Classic
LINCOLN – Two weeks ago, North Platte knocked off two-time defending Class A champion Omaha Marian on the second day of the season during pool play at the Bellevue Invitational. The Crusaders got their revenge – and a tournament title in the process – at the Lincoln Public Schools Volleyball Classic this afternoon.
Marian, 13-3, reached the championship wit a 25-16, 25-15 win over top-ranked Papillion-LaVista South in the semifinals, which allowed the Crusaders to avenge its two other losses on the year. Then, in the championship, Marian posted a 25-21, 25-19 sweep of North Platte.
North Platte, which had been dominate all tournament long heading into the final, defeated Lincoln North Star 25-14, 25-21 in the quarterfinals and Papillion-LaVista 25-7, 25-11 to reach the championship. The loss dropped the Bulldogs to 16-2 on the year.
The way both teams played earlier in the day indicated the final would be an entertaining battle and the two squads didn’t disappoint. Neither team was able to take a lead of more than three points in the first set, and when the Bulldogs’ Olivia Nicholson got a kill and Sami Mauch followed with an ace block, North Platte pulled within 21-20.
Marian’s hard-hitting and free-swinging freshman – Emily Bressman – answered for the Crusaders with back-to-back kills that got Marian’s lead to 23-20. A service error stopped the Marian run, but the Crusaders then got a kill from Elizabeth Loschen and an ace serve from Mary Katherine Wolfe to close out the first set 25-21.
After hitting just .083 and finishing with just one kill the first time Marian played North Platte, Bressman cut it loose for a career-high 10 kills on .500 hitting in the championship match. In the three tournament games today, Bressman finished with 24 kills on .547 hitting for the Crusaders.
Between sets, North Platte setter Alex Neff left the match after feeling woozy from an elbow she took to the head at the end of the first set. That change took a spark away from the Bulldogs and Marian jumped on it right away in the second set, bolting to an 8-3 lead.
Morgan Raska, filling in at setter for Neff, started to get comfortable at that point, however, and the Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run which started with three straight kills from Allison Kuenle and ended with a pair of ace blocks from Josie Cox that put North Platte up 10-9.
Another Kuenle kill a little later put North Platte up 17-16, but Marian scored four straight on kills by Bressman, Kate Ruffalo and Sophia Terwilleger and a hitting error on North Platte to take the lead for good at 20-17 en route to a 25-19 win in the second set.
Along with the freshman Bressman, Marian got a huge game from sophomore Sarah Wing – a transfer from Blair. Wing was very effective on the slide, registering a season-high eight kills. Marian also switched from a 6-2 offense after the quarterfinals to a 5-1 around senior setter Maren McGuire, who responded with four kills, 20 digs and 56 assists without an error in the final two matches of the day. Loschen finished the match with eight kills and two blocks for the Crusaders and Brittany Witt had 12 digs.
Nicholson and Kuenle each had eight kills for North Platte and Cox finished with three blocks.
In the third-place match, Papillion-LaVista rallied for a 24-26, 28-26, 25-16 win over Papillion-LaVista South. In the fifth-place match, Elkhorn South defeated Lincoln Southwest 29-27, 25-20.
Bellevue West won the silver bracket to finish 9th in the tournament with a 25-19, 29-27 win over Columbus. Lincoln Southeast beat Grand Island 25-13, 25-11 for 11th place and Lincoln Northeast downed Lincoln East 25-19, 25-15 for 13th place.