PAPILLION – When Papillion-LaVista is clicking on all cylinders, the Monarchs’ can get kills from a variety of places, as was the case in their 23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-20 victory over Papillion-LaVista South Tuesday night.
Creighton recruit Steph Gaston’s 16 kills led the Monarchs – which had five players with at least seven kills – as Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista took the win over #3 Papillion-LaVista South. The Monarchs improved to 19-2 with the win while the Titans fell to 15-7.
Papillion-LaVista coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said everything starts with defense for the Monarchs and as their passing improved later in the match it allowed their offensive diversity to flourish.
“I thought (our defense) stepped up in games three and four and that helped, obviously, get our hitters involved,” she said. “When we’re running our middles t’s actually our defense putting the ball on the money.
“If we keep our middles involved, everything else opens up. It’s very hard to stop us running our middles. That means our passing is going well for us as well. We can run a lot of different plays with them. A lot of different crossing patterns and it keeps other teams guessing.”
Papillion-LaVista showed its balance down the stretch.
After a kill by Papillion-LaVista South’s Mara LeGrand pulled the Titans within 13-12, Papillion-LaVista went on a 6-1 run with Sydney Fitzgibbons and Ally Glaser each getting two kills during the stretch. The Monarchs would later get kills from Mary Martincik and Gaston to go up 22-17.
The Titans made a late rally with a kill by Peyton Schendt and two more from LeGrand getting Papillion-LaVista South within 23-20. Monarch freshman Chloe Paschal ended the Titan run, however, and got Papillion-LaVista to set point where Fitzgibbons closed it out at 25-20 with a kill.
Fitzgibbons, a 5-foot-11 junior, finished the match with 15 kills and a block while Glaser finished the night with 13 kills, Martincik had nine and setter Dani Prusha finished with seven kills, 10 digs and 62 assists.
Junior Taliyah Flores led the Titans with 15 kills and a team-high 18 digs. The Monarchs, however, were able to put the defensive clamps on the North Dakota recruit late, allowing her to get just two kills in the fourth set, both coming early. Schendt finished the night with 13 kills and two blocks while LeGrand had three kills, two blocks, 14 digs and 35 assists.
Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista def. #3 Papillion-LaVista South 23-25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-20
Papillion-LaVista South (15-7)
Jessica Hendrix 5-0-3; Sidney Pecha 1-0-0; Sophie Hendrix 6-1-3; Peyton Schendt 13-0-2; Taliyah Flores 15-0-1; Leah Palensky 0-2-0; Moe Bianchi 1-0-0; Mara LeGrand 3-1-1.5; Sydney Morehouse 1-2-0.5.
Steph Gaston 16-0-2; Megan Helmberger 0-1-0; Ally Glaser 13-0-2; Chloe Paschal 3-1-0; Mary Matincik 9-0-2; Dani Prusha 7-1-0.5; Maddie Krajewski 0-1-0; Sydney Fitzgibbons 15-0-0.5.
Assists: Papillion-LaVista South 45 (LeGrand 35, Payton Moore 8, Schendt 1, Palensky 1); Papillion-LaVista 63 (Prusha 62, Krajewski 1). Digs: Papillion-LaVista South 84 (Flores 18, Palensky 16, Katie McLaughlin 15, LeGrand 14, Pecha 10, Sophie Hendrix 3, Schendt 3, Morehouse 2, Jessica Hendrix 1, Moore 1, Bianchi 1); Papillion-LaVista 67 (Krajewski 26, Kenzie Michalek 10, Prusha 10, Carly Lindenmeyer 8, Paschal 5, Helmberger 2, Glaser 2, Fitzgibbons 2, Gaston 1, Martincik 1).