LINCOLN – There were plenty of upsets and surprises during the LPS Volleyball Classic over the weekend, but when the dust had settled, it was two of the usual suspects in Nebraska high school volleyball playing for the championship and putting on their typical performance.
Class A #1 Omaha Marian and second-ranked Papillion-LaVista played a match more than worth of a championship Saturday afternoon, with Marian prevailing 25-27, 25-21, 25-19 in the first meeting of the year between the two teams.
“It’s huge for us,” Marian coach Amy McLeay said of the win over Papillion-LaVista for the title. “Our kids definitely respect them. They are well coached and well trained. At the end our kids buckled down and came together and got into the small details.”
It was the serving of SMU setter recruit Lily Heim and play at the net of Emily Bressman and Maddie Wiedenfeld down the stretch that made the difference for Marian.
A kill from Creighton recruit Steph Gaston and another from Ally Glaser allowed Papillion-LaVista to tie the third set of the match at 18-18. A kill from Bressman, who finished with a team-high 10, got the Crusaders a side out and Heim followed with an ace serve to put Marian up 20-18. Another tough Heim serve led to a Monarch overpass which Bressman pounded to the floor to make it 21-18. Bressman and Wiedenfeld the combined for a block and Heim got another ace to push the lead to 23-18.
A kill by 6-foot-2 middle Wiedenfeld made it 24-18, but Glaser helped Papillion-LaVista fight off one match point with a kill to take it to 24-19. A Wiedenfeld block on the next rally, however, ended the match and gave Marian the tournament championship.
Papillion-LaVista coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said she was pleased that her team reached the championship and said the Monarchs (13-2) will get back to work on some of the areas Marian exposed in the finals.
“We’ve got to get better in a few areas. Some of our defense is suspect here and there. We’ve got to get better there and our blocking gets suspect and so does our serve receive,” she said. “We would do great for 3-4 points, then tail off for 3-4 points, so we’re going to get back to practice and work on that.”
Marian improved to 15-1 on the year with the victory. It was also the sixth time this year that Marian has dropped the first set in a best-of-3 and come back to win.
“These kids rise to the challenge of what’s across the net. Sometimes it takes a game to get going. Sometimes they test the waters a little bit, but I think that’s to be expected with girls that are still working on that team chemistry,” McLeay said. I don’t want to say that they are young, but they are definitely varsity inexperienced.”
After Bressman’s 10 kills, UNK recruit Mary Katherine Wolfe and Iowa recruit Sarah Wing each added nine while Heim finished with 40 assists. Junior outside Ashtynne Alberts flashed her all-around game as well against the Monarchs, finishing with a team-high 16 digs to go with her six kills, four blocks and two ace serves.
“Emily Bressman is playing out of her mind. She wants the ball all the time. She wants to pass it, she wants to serve sit, she wants to set it and she wants to hit it,” McLeay said. “Teams are starting to find our outsides, so that’s when we’ve got to use our backsides and that all comes from the pass on and the dig on. Our middles, we established them last night against Grand Island. They are always there for us but we don’t always utilize them and I thought our middles came through for us this weekend.”
“Ashtynee is just a great teammate. She’s calling shots, she’s looking for ways to help her teammates. It’s always about her team. She’s always looking to help her team whether it’s vocally are with a shot. She’s just an all-around great kid.”
Gaston had a match-high 14 kills for the Monarchs and Sydney Fitzgibbons added 13. Dani Prusha finished the match with 41 assists and libero Maddie Krajewski had a match-high 17 digs.
Lincoln Southwest capped a great weekend of volleyball for the Silver Hawks by taking third place in the tournament with a 25-23, 25-19 victory over Lincoln Southeast in the third-place match. Papillion-LaVista South, which was upset by the Silver Hawks in the quarterfinals, rebounded and finished in fifth place after a 25-15, 25-22 victory over Grand Island.
In the silver bracket of the tournament, Elkhorn South took first place after sweeping Norfolk and Lincoln Northeast before beating Lincoln Pius X 25-16, 25-23 in the finals.
Class A #1 Omaha Marian def. #2 Papillion-LaVista 25-27, 25-21, 25-19
Omaha Marian (15-1)
Sophia Moes 0-1-0; Emily Bressman 10-0-4; Mary Katherine Wolfe 9-0-0; Maddie Wiedenfeld 8-0-3; Sarah Wing 9-0-3; Lily Heim 2-4-1; Ashtynne Alberts 6-2-4.
Gaston 14-0-0; Megan Helmberger 1-1-0; Ally Glaser 4-0-0; Chloe Paschal 3-0-0; Mary Martincik 5-0-1; Dani Prusha 2-0-1; Maddie Krajewski 0-1-0; Sydney Fitzgibbons 13-0-1.
Assists: Omaha Marian 42 (Heim 40, Bressman 1, Alberts 1), Papillion-LaVista 42 (Prusha 41, Krajewski 1). Digs: Omaha Marian 66 (Alberts 15, Bressman 14, Wolfe 13, Heim 12, Moes 8, Wing 2, Wiedenfeld 2), Papillion-LaVista 44 (Krajewski 17, Prusha 9, Paschal 8, Helmberger 2, Fitzgibbons 2, Gaston 1, Glaser 1).