Class C-1 Preview, Rankings and Preseason All-State Team
Depending on how you get to there, the road to Lincoln literally goes through Wahoo. For Class C-1 volleyball teams this fall, the path to a state title in Lincoln goes through Wahoo regardless where you’re coming from. After winning…
Depending on how you get to there, the road to Lincoln literally goes through Wahoo. For Class C-1 volleyball teams this fall, the path to a state title in Lincoln goes through Wahoo regardless where you’re coming from.
After winning its first state volleyball title in 2017, Wahoo returns a loaded roster as it looks to defend its championship. Like most years, though, Class C-1 is perhaps the deepest and hardest class to navigate through in the state.
While Wahoo returns a truckload of talent, the team it beat in the state finals last year – Grand Island Central Catholic – returns its entire starting lineup. And while the Crusaders might be at the top of the contenders list in wanting a shot at the champions, there are at least 10-12 teams in the class capable of making a deep run in November.
Bare in mind that while Wahoo won the Class C-1 state title last year, it has almost been a given that a team from the Centennial Conference takes home the crown.
Teams currently in the Centennial Conference had won every Class C-1 state title since 1994 with the exception of 2000 (Central City) and 2007 (Ord).
So, it should come as no surprise that five of the top seven teams in the preseason rankings come from the Centennial Conference.
Here is our initial Class C-1 rankings with a little bit about each team.
#1 – Wahoo
Coming off of its first-ever state championship in volleyball, Wahoo looks as though it will have a decent shot at repeating the feat again in 2018. Not many programs can go from losing the all-time Class C-1 assists leader at setter to having a player committed to USC step in and fill that spot, but that’s exactly the case for the Warriors as sophomore Elle Glock takes over for the graduated Kinsley Tingelhoff. Glock had 213 kills, 28 solo blocks and 34 assists last year as the starting right side. In the middle Wahoo returns Illinois recruit Kyla Swanson, who had 328 kills while hitting .488 and had 61 solo blocks last year. Senior Elly Larson is back as well after leading the team with 384 kills and also had 291 digs. Kelsie Sears, a 6’0 sophomore, Lillie Mann, a 5’10 junior, also return and freshman Mya Larson should make a big impact for the Warriors.
#2 – Grand Island Central Catholic
The Crusaders, which fell to Wahoo in the Class C-1 final last year, will look very familiar in 2018 because GICC returns nine of its 10 varsity players from a year ago. Leading the way is senior Megan Woods, who had 483 kills and 336 digs a season ago. Avery Kalvoda (229 kills, 28 blocks), Allison Kalvoda (177 kills, 12 blocks), Kamryn Willman (194 kills, 59 blocks) and Kate McFarland (75 kills, 332 digs) all return along the net with Woods. Creighton recruit Katie Maser, a junior, returns at setter after a 1,015 assist, 240 dig season in 2017. Jenna Lowry, who had 417 digs last year, returns at libero and Lauren Willman (93 digs, 25 aces) is back as a defensive specialist. Also keep an eye on freshman Chloe Cloud, a player who could really burst onto the scene this year.
#3 – St. Paul
The Wildcats have been one of the more impressive programs in Class C-1 for a while now and St. Paul looked especially good this summer at team camps. St. Paul went 26-7 last year, falling to Grand Island Central Catholic in the subdistrict final and just missing out on a chance to advance to the substate round. The scary thing is that the Wildcats are still pretty young. Hayley Fox has looked like an all-state player this summer and the 6’0 senior has some solid talent coming back with her. Junior right side Brooke Poppert and sophomore middle Josie Jakubowski are both back as is sophomore libero Paige Lukasiewicz. Other returning seniors are Grace Jerabek, Bree Carlson and Alexis Sack.
#4 – Omaha Concordia
Despite starting the year ranked fourth, Omaha Concordia looks to have as good of a shot at winning the state title as anyone in Class C-1. The Mustangs won the state title in 2016 and pushed Grand Island Central Catholic in a tough four-set loss in the first round of state last year. Setter Sami Clarkson is back for her senior year of what has been a standout career as she sits at 2,218 assists (10.4 per set), 453 digs and 182 kills in her previous three years combined. Outside hitter Taylor Pribyl returns for her senior year as well and had 369 kills and 236 digs a year ago. Gabby Armour (220 kills), Elise Volk (178 kills) and Haley Alharithy (129 kills) are all back as seniors as well. Senior Hailey Michels returns after having 139 digs a year ago.
#5 – Lincoln Lutheran
Lincoln Lutheran finished third last season in Class C-1 and returns its main pieces as the Warriors attempt to make another run at a state title in 2018. All eyes will be on junior outside hitter Marriah Buss as she tries to shake off a nagging hip injury that was giving her problems over the summer. Buss smashed 684 kills a year ago with a .417 hitting percentage and added 244 digs and 48 total blocks. When she’s healthy, Lincoln Lutheran is as good as anyone in the class. Without her, the Warriors would struggle to find a consistent point scorer at the net. All-everything setter Hope Leimbach is back as a senior after a season in which she had 1,023 assists, 301 digs, 44 total blocks, 65 ace serves and 107 kills. Libero Erin Williams also returns as a senior after having 489 digs and handling 373 serve receptions last year. Senior Josie Puelz returns after having 164 kills a season ago.
#6 – Bishop Neumann
Some key injuries at a bad time last year doomed the Cavaliers as they lost to Ord in the substate round in 2017 and finished the year with a record of 22-9. If Neumann stays healthy, it could push for a state title behind all-state outside Kelsie Cada, who had 378 kills, 322 digs and 52 total blocks a year ago. Alyssa Rezac had 164 kills, 49 aces, 243 digs and 435 assists a year ago. Senior Jamie Chvatal will handle the libero duties for the Cavaliers and senior Rachael Binstock is back on the right side. Juniors Lindsey Thiele, Lily Spangler, Katie Spicka, Mckayla Most, Emily Coufal and Tara Jurgensmeier all look to contribute as well.
#7 – Kearney Catholic
Nobody is quite ready to compare this group of Stars to the group that won four straight state titles not long ago, but Kearney Catholic certainly looks prepared to rebound from a 16-16 season in 2017. Only two seniors are on the roster this year with setter Olivia Micek and libero Kayla Lee. Micek had 573 assists, 265 digs and 81 kills a year ago while Lee had 438 digs and 568 serve receptions. Junior middle Sarah Clinch is the top returning kill leader for the Stars with 130 last year while senior Liza Trettle had 126. Sophomores Jill Collins, a 5’10 middle, and Julia McReynolds, a 5’8 right side, both looked good this summer, as did freshmen Ashley Keck, a 5’9 outside, and Syd Conner, a 5’9 setter.
#8 – Ogallala
As long as Steve Morgan is coaching, Ogallala is a top 10 team in my book. Now, it doesn’t hurt that the long-time coach also has quite a bit of talent coming back as well in 2018. Senior Emma Krab was second on the team in kills last season for the Indians with 256 and also had 42 blocks. Junior Jaedy Commins returns after having 195 kills, 66 solo blocks last season. Setter Maddie Mendoza returns for her senior season after having 859 assists a year ago and seniors Rylee Dehning (198 digs) and Lily Fair (514 digs) return in the back row.
#9 – Minden
Minden is looking to build off a season in which it went 23-12 and reached the Class C-1 state tournament but will need to replace two holes on its roster and its long-time coach Ed Rowse. Minden is now co-coached by Levi Gorsuch and Julie Ratka after Rowse moved into the school’s administration as athletic director. On the court, the Whippets must replace Janessa Madsen and Emma Ryan, but do return junior outside hitter Jensen Rowse, who had 536 kills, 59 aces and 406 digs a year ago. Also back is senior Ryleigh Hanson after a 114 kill year in 2017. Alexas Kuehn, a senior, returns at libero and had 605 digs a year ago and senior Leah Boudreau is back at setter after having 985 assists last year.
#10 – Syracuse
Perhaps the most under-the-radar team in Class C-1 last year was Syracuse, which seems odd to say considering the Rockets went 24-5 and pushed Malcolm to five sets in the substate round. Nobody should be overlooking the Rockets this season, though. Meredith Clark is back as a senior after leading the team in kills with 250 while junior Lauren Meyer had 131 kills a year ago and sophomore Jessie Moss had 125. Brooke Snyder returns for her senior year as libero while the big question for Syracuse is who takes over at setter.
Here is a look at our Class C-1 Preseason All-State Team
Setter – Sami Clarkson, 5’11, Sr., Omaha Concordia (committed to Omaha)
Setter – Elle Glock, 6’0, Soph., Wahoo (committed to USC)
Hitter – Kelsie Cada, 6’1, Sr., Bishop Neumann (committed to Wayne State)
Hitter – Elly Larson, 6’0, Sr., Wahoo (committed to Wayne State)
Hitter – Kyla Swanson, 6’3, Sr., Wahoo (committed to Illinois)
Hitter – Megan Woods, 5’10, Sr., Grand Island Central Catholic (committed to Omaha)
Hitter – Marriah Buss, 6’1, Jr., Lincoln Lutheran (committed to Wichita State)
Hitter – Jensen Rowse, 5’9, Jr., Minden
Libero/DS – Erin Williams, 5’4, Sr., Lincoln Lutheran (committed to Omaha)
Libero/DS – Lily Fair, 5’5, Sr., Ogallala