OMAHA – It’s in clutch games and situations that the great players find a way to take their game to another level. Skutt Catholic senior outside hitter Brooke Heyne proved, yet again, what a great player she is Saturday in the third set of the Millard North Invitational championship.
Heyne, a Kansas State recruit, pounded home 10 of her match-high 17 kills in the decisive set against Class A #4 Millard North to help the top-ranked team in Nebraska and Class B to a 21-25, 25-16, 25-16 victory and the tournament championship.
“When Brooke Heyne is on, she’s unstoppable,” Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson said after the match. “I’m not sure who will be able to stop her.”
Skutt coach Renee Saunders agreed.
“(Heyne) is a great, great all-around player player and really fun to watch when she turns it on,” Saunders said. “She has, like, 20 different shots, so just when you think you’ve got her stopped she comes up with something new.”
Dropping a set to a Nebraska opponent was something new for Skutt, now 13-0 on the season and winners of 29 straight dating back to last year. Millard North dropped to 10-4 with the loss and went 5-1 in tournament play this weekend. When Millard North won the first set 25-21, it was the first time since a 3-1 win over Elkhorn South on Oct. 22, 2015 that the SkyHawks had lost a set to a Nebraska team. Last weekend, however, Skutt did drop a set to Iowa’s Western Christian in the Bellevue Invitational quarterfinals.
Saunders said playing against a team as good as the Mustangs showed the SkyHawks there is always room for improvement while saying that Millard North, “has the bones to be a great team. They’re on the cusp of it.”
“We’ve got things to work on,” she said. “We knew Millard North was going to give us a run for our money today and they did. We’ve got things to work on, but being 13-0 isn’t bad.”
In the first set, it was Millard North 6-foot-1 sophomore Emmy Grant and 6-1 freshman McKenna Ruch that helped push the momentum the Mustangs’ way early as the two combined for a block before Grant got a kill and Ruch an ace block to put Millard North up 7-2. Millard North eventually held a 14-10 lead on a Madison Johnson kill, but Skutt rattled off six straight points behind a pair of kills from 5-11 freshman Megan Skovsende to take a 16-14 lead.
Again, though, Ruch this time with 6-2 sophomore Iowa commit Emma Grunkemeyer providing a spark for the Mustangs. After Millard North senior Elise Baumann, who committed to Hastings College over the weekend, got a kill, the Mustangs got a block by Ruch and two in a row from Grunkemeyer which – following a Skutt hitting error – put Millard North up 20-17.
A Lily Heyne block for Skutt eventually cut the Millard North leas to 23-21, but Grant had a solo block for the Mustangs and set point came when Skutt was called for a net violation, giving the first set to the Mustangs 25-21.
Skutt’s experience – and Millard North’s lack of it – showed in the second set. Millard North errors led directly to 13 points for the SkyHawks while Heyne started to catch fire with five kills and McKenna Kirkpatrick added three in Skutt’s 25-16 victory in the second set.
Peterson said a lack of experience showed somewhat during the course of the tournament and in the championship match but overall she was excited about the way the Mustangs played and the progress they have made early in the season.
“That was a fun match. Next to the Marian match (a 2-1 loss at the Bellevue Invitational), that was the best match we’ve played,” Peterson said. “Some of (the ups and downs) comes from being young and part of it is we aren’t as disciplined as we need to be. This should give us confidence.”
The SkyHawks got off to a strong start in the third set thanks a Brooke Heyne kill, Allison Schomers ace serve and two blocks from Lily Heyne as Skutt jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Millard North kept it tight while Brooke Heyne was pilling up the kills and the Mustangs got within 19-15 on a kill from Izzy Lukens, but a Brooke Heyne kill and Kirkpatrick ace made it 21-15. After a Grunkemeyer kill made it 21-16, Brooke Heyne rattled off three straight kills to get it to championship point where a Mustang hitting error ended it.
Millard West finished third in the tournament with a 4-2 record thanks to a 25-19, 25-15 victory over Grand Island. The Islanders finished fourth in the seven-team, round-robin tournament with a 3-3 record. Millard South went 2-4 while Lincoln North Star was 1-5 and Lincoln East went 0-6.
Class B #1 Omaha Skutt def. Class A #4 Millard North 21-25, 25-16, 25-16
Millard North (10-4)
Madison Johnson 3-0-0; Elle Olson 1-0-0; Emma Grunkemeyer 5-0-2; Izzy Lukens 4-0-2; McKenna Ruch 5-0-3; Emmy Grant 1-0-2; Elise Baumann 6-2-0.
Skutt Catholic (13-0)
Jessica Schlautman 1-1-0; Brooke Heyne 16-0-1; Lily Heyne 6-0-4; Megan Skovsende 4-0-0; Allison Schomers 0-2-1; McKenna Kirkpatrick 9-1-2; Brooklyn Duren 1-0-0.
Set assists: Millard North 26 (Lukens 26); Skutt Catholic 37 (Schomers 35, Schlautman 2).
Digs: Millard North 47 (Madison Evans 23, Baumann 8, Lukens 6, Megan Hanson 6, Mallory Stamm 3, Johnson 1). Skutt Catholic 41 (Schlautman 18, Schomers 6, Brooke Heyne 5, Nikki White 5, Megan Sutera 5, Sydney McDermott 1, Kirkpatrick 1).