BELLEVUE – In many ways, Saturday’s match against Omaha Marian in the finals of the Bellevue Invitational was something Omaha Skutt had been looking forward to for exactly a year.
In the 2015 tournament, Omaha Skutt got swept soundly in the championship quarterfinals by Omaha Marian. Today was the Skyhawks’ chance at redemption and Skutt got it in the form of a 25-14, 25-19 victory over the Crusaders, snapping Marian’s state-best winning streak of 42 consecutive matches. It’s the first Bellevue Invitational title for the top-ranked team in both Class B and the all-class rankings. For Marian, ranked #1 in Class A, not winning the title has worked out well in the past. The Crusaders have won the last three Class A titles, but haven’t won the Bellevue Invitational since 2009.
Skutt left no doubt this weekend that it is the top team in the state regardless of class. Marian only led twice during the championship match, at 1-0 and 2-1 of the first set. Earlier in the day in the semifinals, the Skyhawks, 6-0, defeated Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista 25-17, 25-23. The only real score Skutt had in the tournament came early this morning in the quarterfinals when Iowa’s Western Christian took the Skyhawks to three sets before falling 25-5, 21-25, 25-19.
Marian, 5-1, showed a tremendous amount of grit in reaching the championship, having to come from behind to beat Millard North in the quarterfinals (24-26, 25-22, 30-28) and Papillion-LaVista South in the semifinals (19-25, 25-19, 25-23).
In the championship match, it was a Skutt freshman that helped the Skyhawks pull away from Marian in the opening set. After Marian got a kill from 6-foot-2 junior middle Maddie Wiedenfeld to pull within 14-9, Skutt 5-11 freshman outside hitter Megan Skovsende got a kill, which was followed by a kill from senior McKenna Kirkpatrick and an ace serve from Megan Sutera to put Skutt ahead 17-9. Skovsende then recorded another kill followed by a setter dump from Allison Schomers and another Sutera ace serve that made it 20-9. Kansas State recruit Brooke Heyne then had three late kills for the Skyhawks as they closed out the set 25-14.
Skutt never trailed in the second set, getting off to a 5-0 lead behind a pair of kills from sophomore Lily Heyne. Marian’s Emily Bressman, however, answered with three straight kills of her own and an ace serve from Iowa recruit Sarah Wing cut Skutt’s lead to 5-4. A Brooke Heyne kill and three straight Marian hitting errors, however, built Skutt’s lead back up to 9-4. A kill by Wiedenfeld got Marian back within 12-10 at one point, but Skutt’s lead was never in any real danger the rest of the way as the Skyhawks closed out the set 25-19.
Brooke Heyne led Skutt in the championship match with 12 kills while Lily Heyne added nine. Marian was led by Bressman with eight kills and Wing with five.
In the third-place match, Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista rallied to knock off #4 Papillion-LaVista South 19-25, 25-16, 25-12. In the fifth-place match, Millard North won a tight battle over Western Christian 25-23, 22-25, 25-23.
In the championship bracket consolation round Western Christian defeated Lincoln Southeast 28-26, 19-25, 25-16, giving Southeast a tie for seventh place with Omaha Westside, which lost to Millard North 25-14, 25-11.
Sioux City Heelan held off Lincoln East 25-19, 20-25, 25-18 to win the consolation bracket and finish in 9th place in the 16-team tournament. Lincoln Northeast defeated Bellevue West 25-20, 25-13 in the 11th-place match while North Platte knocked off Millard South 25-17, 25-23 in the 13th-place match. Bellevue East and Omaha Burke each went winless in the tournament to tie for 15th place.