WAVERLY – Waverly coach Terri Neujahr knew her Vikings had a tall task ahead of them to try and knock off Gretna Thursday night and the Dragons proved that to be true both figuratively and literally.
Gretna, 6-0 and ranked #3 in Class B, frustrated the Vikings by getting a touch on just about every Waverly attack en route to a 25-11, 25-12, 25-21 victory. Waverly, ranked #8 in Class B, dropped to 3-5 with the loss.
“Gretna does not make very many mistakes. They just cover the floor really well, no matter what shot we were trying to hit, no matter what set we were trying to hit it seemed like they were always getting at least one hand on the block,” Neujahr said. “And then there was somebody staying low on defense and digging a ball or running through a ball on defense no matter what we tried to do. They just communicated really, really well tonight and I can’t saw we did that.”
Even Gretna coach Mike Brandon said after the match that he couldn’t find many faults with the way his team played defensively and as a whole.
“I thought we were low error tonight. We’ve struggled at the service line a little bit the last couple matches, we kind of nipped that in the bud tonight and played clean volleyball,” Brandon said. “We’re blessed to have a lot of tall kids up front, so that makes it tough on a team. I thought (Waverly) did a nice job of scrapping and trying to find ways around the block, we just did a nice job of being disciplined behind it and being there when it did get past (the block). I wouldn’t want to face our block either.”
Another strength for Gretna Thursday night was its ability to get off to strong starts in each of the first three sets. Gretna 6-foot-1 middle Mallory Yost and 5-8 outside hitter Jaisa Russell each hammered home two kills early in the first set to get the Dragons off to an 8-1 lead on their way to taking the opening game 25-11.
It was much of the same to start the second set as kills by Yost accounted for four of Gretna’s first seven points as the Dragons bolted out to a 7-3 lead in a 25-12 win to go up 2-0 in the match.
Even though Gretna got off to another quick start in the third set at 8-3 on an ace serve from libero Carson Opfer, Waverly battled back and kept it close most of the way before dropping the set 25-21.
Yost finished with a match-high 14 kills and two blocks for the Dragons while Lindsay Brunssen had six to lead Waverly and Taylor Cockerill added five.