10 Best: Papillion-LaVista South at Millard North
There may not have been as much on the line Tuesday night as the last time Papillion-LaVista South and Millard North faced each other, but there was still plenty of drama. In a rematch of last year’s Class A state…
There may not have been as much on the line Tuesday night as the last time Papillion-LaVista South and Millard North faced each other, but there was still plenty of drama.
In a rematch of last year’s Class A state final, Class A #2 Papillion-LaVista South got some revenge on Class A #5 and defending state champion Millard North in a 25-16, 32-30, 25-23 victory.
After the Titans, 7-1, pulled away in the first set, it was Millard North, 5-3, which looked like it was going to pull away late in the second set to even the match. But, a Taliyah Flores kill followed by a kill from Peyton Schendt tied it at 24-24. The Titans then fought off five more set points before ending the set on two kills by Flores and a hitting error on the Mustangs to take the set 32-30.
In the third set, a double block from Emma Grunkemeyer and Paige Holdsworth gave Millard North a 22-21 lead, but the Titans again responded by getting a service error followed by an Anna Gregerson block and Flores kill to go up 24-22. A kill by Grunkemeyer allowed Millard North to hold off one match point, but Flores delivered her 17th kill of the night to give the third set and match to Papillion-LaVista South.
Now, on to the 10 Best from the night………
MVP: Taliyah Flores (Papillion-LaVista South)
Right now, there is no player that has been more money than Flores has been so far this season. She. Does. Everything. She had a match-high 17 kills, mixed in an ace and a couple blocks and plays the best back row of any player at any position – and it’s not even close. Flores is on a different level than any other player in Class A. She is a special, special player.
Best Offensive Performance: Emma Grunkemeyer (Millard North)
For my money, Tuesday night was the best offensive performance I’ve seen from Grunkemeyer in a high school match. Her 11 kills was just one shy of a career high, but it was her aggressiveness at the net and activity level that kept the Mustangs in the match. Grunkemeyer is rapidly developing into a dominating player.
Best Defensive Performance: Leah Palensky (Papillion-LaVista South)
I really struggle to come up with the right words to describe how well Palensky played as the libero for the Titans and how well she and Flores fed off each other defensively. Palensky finished with 28 digs and 27 serve receptions. Just how much as Palensky feeling it during the match – she stepped in front of Flores at one point to pass a serve, which is like saying to Jesus, “Nah – you stay in the boat, I got this.”
Best All-Around Performance: Mara LeGrand (Papillion-LaVista South)
LeGrand has quietly worked her way into being one of the elite setters in the state, which is saying something since she didn’t start setting until high school. She is a good enough all-around player and athlete that she is dangerous at all time and finished with two kills, one block, 28 assists and played outstanding defense – as usual.
Best Stock-Raising Performance: Moe Bianchi (Papillion-LaVista South)
Bianchi is a track standout and an incredible leaper who normally contributes mostly as a blocker, but against Millard North she had a career-high eight kills to go along with her four blocks. Bianchi also attacks occasionally with her left hand, which makes it almost impossible to block her one-on-one.
Best Performance by a Sophomore or a Freshman: McKenna Ruch (Millard North)
Ruch gets the nod here even though it wasn’t a typical Ruch performance. Even on an “off” night, Ruch finished with eight kills but hit just .069 and didn’t get her first kill until well into the second set. She only accounted for 20.6% of Millard North’s swings, which simply isn’t enough and might be part of the reason she didn’t get into a groove.
Best Player to Watch Out For Moving Forward: Peyton Schendt (Papillion-LaVista South)
If Schendt continues to play the way she has played the first eight matches of the year for the Titans, there’s no reason why they won’t continue to roll. On Tuesday night the Army recruit finished with six kills and three blocks and for the season is averaging three kills and a block per set.
Best Moment: Jessica Hendrix (Papillion-LaVista South)
Hendrix, a 6’0 junior, suffered a concussion during preseason practices and is slowly progressing towards returning to the Titan line-up. She went through warm-ups and then got onto the court for one rotation tonight. It was a nice moment to see her get onto the court, even for a short while, as it’s likely been a frustrating feeling being on the bench the last two weeks.
Best Performance That Could Easily Be Overlooked Part I: Lindsey Allgire (Papillion-LaVista South)
When Sophie Hendrix went down with an ACL injury in the preseason, it thrust Allgire into a prominent role for the Titans. The 5’11 junior isn’t going to dominate anyone or overwhelm you with her ability, but she has been steady and consistent for a player with no varsity experience coming into the year. She had three kills, two blocks and seven digs against Millard North.
Best Performance That Could Easily Be Overlooked Part II: Anna Gregerson (Papillion-LaVista South)
The concession suffered by Jessica Hendrix thrusted Gregerson into a larger role this season as well and things are clicking better and better for the 6’0 junior with each passing match. She had two kills on three swings and finished with three blocks in the win over the Mustangs.