LINCOLN – In her post-match interview, Grand Island Northwest coach Diane Rouzee used the word “love” about as many times as her team got an ace block Tuesday night at Lincoln Pius X.
Northwest, 33-2 and ranked #2 in Class B, had 17 ace blocks in its 25-13, 25-18, 24-26, 25-6 victory over Lincoln Pius X. The Thunderbolts, ranked #3 in Class A, dropped to 23-12 with the loss.
“I love our aggressive serving. I felt like all night we made the Pius setter come off the net and do down balls and free balls and that was a big deal,” Rouzee said. “I love, love, love our blocking … that was big. Even the ones where we didn’t have down blocks, we had great touches and were able to take some heat off the ball.”
Sierra Holliday led the block part for Northwest with six solos while Taylor Hageman added four. Holliday, a 6-foot-1 senior, also had a match-high 12 kills and dominated the net all night.
Northwest controlled the first and second sets of the match from the beginning and it looked as though the Vikings were going to get a sweep with a Holliday block put them up 18-11 in the third set.
Behind the play of Air Force recruit Kathleen Medill, Abigail Noel and Delaney Humm, Pius X was able to fight its way back into the set and eventually tied it at 22 when Northwest was called for a double contact.
A kill by Hageman and an ace serve by Kelsey Placke – one of her seven aces on the night – got Northwest to match point at 24-22, but Placke’s next serve found the net and Aspen Rolfes went line for a kill on the right side to tie it at 24-24. Rolfes went high hands for another kill off the Northwest block to make it 25-24 and Humm completed the comeback with a cross-court shot from the outside that was too hot for the Northwest defense to handle.
Rouzee gave Pius X credit for battling back, but also said her team needed to be able to close out that set.
“We let up on the intensity,” she said. “When you’re playing a good Class A team you can’t do that and we paid for it.”
There was no such issue in the fourth set as Northwest scored the first four points and went up 10-1 on a Whitney Jensen kill. The Vikings then cruised to a 25-6 victory in the final set to close out the match.
Class B #2 Grand Island Northwest def. Class A #3 Lincoln Pius X 25-13, 25-18, 24-26, 25-6
Grand Island Northwest (33-2)
Kylie Broich 7-1-3; Sierra Holliday 12-0-6; Kelsey Placke 5-7-2; Mallory Beckmann 0-0-0; Sydney Simmons 0-0-0; Jadeyn Stutzman 0-0-0; Taryn Mayfield 5-0-0; Taylor Hagemann 7-1-4; Whitney Jensen 2-0-2.
Lincoln Pius X (23-12)
Karly Wieser 0-0-0; Kathleen Medill 8-1-1; Morgan Christainsen 3-0-0; Delaney Humm 6-0-0; Ragen Taubenheim 5-0-0; Delaney Harper 0-0-0; Brittany Ohnoutka 0-1-0; Aspen Rolfes 9-0-0; Lindsay Nottlemann 0-0-0; Abigail Noel 7-0-0.
Assists: Grand Island Northwest 36 (Broich 19, Simmons 13, Jensen 4), Lincoln Pius X 37 (Ohnoutka 33, Nottlemann 4). Digs: Grand Island Northwest 80 (Broich 25, Hageman 12, Beckmann 9, Mayfield 9, Placke 8, Simmons 6, Stutzman 5, Jensen 5, Holliday 1), Lincoln Pius X 86 (Nottlemann 25, Noel 15, Ohnoutka 14, Taubenheim 12, Wieser 9, Rolfes 5, Harper 2, Humm 2, Christainsen 1, Medill 1).