The Nebraska state volleyball tournament rolled on into the semifinal round at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday.
No 1 Diller-Odell 3, No. 4 Falls City Sacred Heart 0
The reigning D2 champions got off to slow starts in each of the first two sets but finished strong in both, then used a big run in the third to take control and cruise into the finals. The Griffins beat No. 4 Falls City Sacred Heart 25-14, 25-16, 25-19 to avenge their only loss of the season.
The Griffins have four players back from last year’s championship rotation and that experience paid off in a big way with senior setter and Iowa State commit Addison Heidemann leading the way.
“It’s been a huge advantage for us, but these girls also put in work outside of our season too, and that helps tremendously,” Diller-Odell coach Reba Hestermann told Hail Varsity. “These girls show up, they’re coachable and they do what you ask them to do and I couldn’t ask for better players.”
After a 4-1 start for Sacred Heart in the first set, Diller-Odell settled in and ripped off a 10-1 run to take control and cruised form there. The Irish led throughout much of the second set until the Girffins hit them with a 15-4 stretch to close out the set.
“I think the biggest thing we kind of put in our girls’ heads is to push to five, push to 10, push to 15, so that 25 doesn’t seem like such a big stretch,”Reba Hestermann said. “We have goals that we have to meet within each set.”
Diller-Odell didn’t wait long to make its movie in the third set, using a 10-1 run to build up a 13-4 lead. Sacred Heart picked it up from there but ran out of time as the Griffins punched their ticket back to the D2 final with a sweep.
Sophomore outside hitter Karli Heidemann led the Griffins with 18 kills, 10 digs, two blocks and two aces. She posted 31 kills, 13 digs, three blocks and two aces in Diller-Odell’s 3-1 win against Nebraska Christian in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“She’s very special, but her teammates help in that aspect as well,” Hesterman said. “She keeps her composure and she’s not a player that’s going to be full of herself. She’s somebody who’s very humble and is willing to be a team player out there.”
Freshman Lilly Swanson added nine kills while Addison Hiedemann put up 32 assists, nine digs and five kills.
Junior middle blocker Erison Vonderschmidt led Sacred Heart with 13 kills and six blocks.
No. 2 Chambers/Wheeler Central 3, No. 3 Maywood-Hayes Center 0
The second-seeded Renegades handed the third-seeded Wolves their first loss of the season and advanced to the D2 final with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 victory.
“I’m a little bit in shock,” CWC coach Diane Kasselder said. “Maywood, I think they’re a healthy opponent. I think our girls just came to play today. I’m so happy for them. We said all along we were going to come down here with a mission and they are here for a purpose, they are not on vacation. We’ve got one more in us; I do believe we do.”
The two teams were neck and neck throughout the first set until a 7-1 run by the Renegades gave CWC a 16-12 lead. Maywood-Hayes Center cut it to two at 17-15 before CWC doubled up the Wolves the rest of the way.
Maywood-Hayes Center took control early in set two, jumping out to a 9-5 lead, but CWC battled back to tie it at 17-all, 19-all and 20-all. Senior Morgan Ramsey gave the Renegades the lead with a kill, sparking a 5-0 run to close it out. Ramsey had nine kills in the second set alone.
After trading points early in set three, CWC gradually built up an 11-7 advantage. The Wolves cut the deficit down to one twice, but CWC slammed the door shut down a comeback with a 6-1 run to take a 21-15 lead and held on from there.
Ramsey posted a match-high 26 kills, six digs, four blocks and two aces. In a four-set quarterfinal win over No. 7 Wynot on Thursday, she exploded for 33 kills, 10 digs, 6 blocks and three aces.
“She’s huge,” Kasselder said. “Usually, how Mo goes, we go. She’s a humble girl. She’s just a great kid. She worked hard in the offseason, she works hard all the time. I thought she played really well today, but our outsides really brought it today and that’s what our game plan was. I’ve got 11 kids that can play and we don’t depend on Mo.”
CWC got double-digit kills from two outside hitters to supplement Ramsey’s big game. Senior Tessa Metschke put up 12 kills — including one on match point — and 13 digs while senior Rachel Dierks chipped in 11 kills.
“Tessa is a striker and a heck of a passer,” Kasselder said. “Our passing was on point. It starts with serve and pass; I learned that from John Cook.”
The championship will feature a showdown of the top two seeds as CWC takes on No. 1 Diller-Odell on Saturday at 9 a.m.
“I hope it’s a match to remember,” Kasselder said.
No. 1 Pleasanton 3, No. 4 Mead 0
Pleasanton rolled over Mead early then fended off a big push late to complete a 25-15, 25-8, 26-24 sweep and earn a berth into the finals.
Senior middle blocker Katy Lindner led the offensive effort with 17 kills plus nine digs while senior outside hitter Kaci Pierce paced the defense with 16 digs.
Senior middle blocker Becca Halbmeier led the Raiders with nine kills.
No. 3 Fremont Bergan 3, No. 2 BDS 1
The Knights pulled up the first seeding upset of the day, blitzing the Eagles in the first two sets then closing it out with a big run in game four to advance to D1 final. Bergan won 25-17, 25-13, 22-25, 25-14 to advance to the state championship match for the third straight year.
After a tight battle early in the first set, Bergan closed it on a 10-5 run to take a 1-0 lead. The Knights dominated from the start in set two, building up a 21-8 lead before cruising to the finish line.
BDS regrouped for set three and led most of the game, earning a three-point win to extend the match. The Eagles led 16-7 early in set four as well, but Bergan took control with an 11-2 run from there and traded points the rest of the way.
Senior middle blocker Lauren Baker led the Knights with 18 kills, 19 digs and five blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Kate Mlnarik and freshman opposite hitter Paige Frickenstein chipped in 10 kills apiece while sophomore libero Carlee Hapke was credited with 45 digs. Sophomore setter Rebecca Baker had a double-double with 40 assists and 13 digs.
Senior outside hitter Macy Kamler led the Eagles with 16 kills and 22 digs while junior outside hitter Mariah Sliva added 11 kills and a team-high 11 digs.
The Knights will look for their second state championship in three years when they play top-seeded and undefeated Pleasanton on Saturday in the D1 final, which will follow the D2 championship.
No. 1 Wahoo 3, No. 5 Columbus Lakeview 0
Wahoo is one win away from a perfect season as the Warriors will compete for their third state championship in the last four years after sweeping No. 5 Columbus Lakeview on Friday afternoon.
Lakeview put up a heck of a fight, but the Warriors’ experience won out as Wahoo took the match 25-16, 27-25, 25-22.
“We knew they were a good team,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said. “Especially when they’re in system, they’re almost unstoppable. So we knew that we had to serve aggressively, we had to get them out of system to eliminate the middle and that would make it a lot easier on our defense. We had to pass and we had to win the out-of-system battle.”
Wahoo jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the first set but Lakeview battled back to within one at 14-13. Then the Warriors put them away with a 6-0 run.
The second set featured several ties and a few lead changes as the two sides traded runs. Lakeview led by as much as four early, then Wahoo pulled ahead by three late. The Vikings jumped back in front 22-21 on back-to-back kills by Josie Bentz, but Wahoo quickly tied it up again and three more ties followed.
From there, senior Wahoo setter Elle Glock went to her go-to hitter in Mya Larson and jet junior delivered, putting down two kills to seal the win.
“That was just a battle,” Coach Larson said. “I felt like it lasted about an hour. To finish that on top, I felt like for them it was kind of a momentum killer, you could kind of see it on their faces. For us, it was a little bit of a confidence booster. We could kind of relax a little bit but still stay focused and poised.”
Wahoo and Lakeview traded 4-0 runs midway through the third set, leading to a 12-all tie. Lakeview took a 20-19 lead late on an ace by junior libero Jordie Nekl. Wahoo scored two straight from there, then Lakeview tied it up again at 21-all.
With the game on the line, a few different Warriors stepped up and made big plays as Wahoo closed the match on a 4-1 run including the match-point kill by Larson, her 10th of the set.
“We were talking about being aggressive the whole match,” each Larson said. “We knew we couldn’t give them anything easy, so we had to finish the match aggressive and I’m proud of how Kelsie Sears finished. She finished with a kill and then tough serves at the end, got them out of system, and I think that was a big part of it. When it’s a pressure situation like that, to be able to be aggressive is really hard and the fact that they did that says a lot about them.”
Larson finished with a match-high 22 kills on .372 hitting and 20 digs. Glock dished out 36 assists, recorded eight digs and notched five kills. Sears chipped in seven kills and led the defensive effort with 21 digs.
Bentz and Lilly Rowe led the Vikings with seven kills apiece and Rowe added a team-high 18 digs. Nekl had three aces and 16 digs.
After falling in the semifinals last year, the Warriors are headed back to the final. They took home the hardware in 2017 and 2018. Coach parsons said she’s glad her seniors can finish their careers on the biggest stage.
“It’s very important, especially for our seniors,” Larson said. “They’ve put so much time and energy into the sport of volleyball and we wanted to do it for them. That was very special, and they’re not going to be satisfied just getting there tomorrow; they’re going to want to win.”
No. 2 St. Paul 3, No. 6 Lincoln Lutheran 2
The Warriors officially put the undefeated Wildcats on upset alert by winning the first two sets, but St. Paul turned things around and took the last three sets to advance to the final and set up a clash of the top two seeds in Saturday’s C1 final.
St. Paul won 27-29, 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-8 to improve to 34-0 this season. Seniors Josie Jakubowski and Teegan Hansel led the Wildcats with 17 kills apiece, and Jakubowski added 26 digs for the double-double. Senior libero Paige Lukasiewicz led the defensive effort with 38 digs while junior setter Olivia Poppert finished with 47 assists, nine digs and five kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Abby Wachal led the Warriors with 11 kills, nine digs and five blocks. Senior middle blocker Abigail Wohlgemuth chipped in 10 kills and seven blocks and junior setter Ashlyn DeBoer recorded 34 assists, 13 digs and six kills.
St. Paul will face Wahoo in a showdown of undefeated teams on Saturday, following the completion of the 2 p.m. match.
No. 1 Norfolk Lutheran 3, No. 4 Clarkson/Leigh 2
Class C2 provided just the second five-set match of the tournament as the Patriots took the Eagles down to the wire. After losing a key player to injury during the fifth set, Lutheran showed its resiliency by taking the game in extra points and winning the match 23-25, 25-13, 22-25, 25-14, 17-15.
Clarkson/Leigh took 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the match with hard-fought wins, but each time the Eagles responded in a big way, controlling the action to tie it up and send the match to game five.
Lutheran held a 12-11 lead when junior middle blocker Aubrey Herbolsheimer went down with a leg injury and he’d to be helped off the court. The teams traded points until Lutheran señor libero Halle Berner finally finished it off with an ace on match-point.
Senior outside hitter Becca Gebhardt led the war for Lutheran with 24 kills and 39 digs, both match-highs. Junior outside hitter Lauren Buhrman added 12 kills and junior opposite hitter Mia First chipped in 10. Berner had 30 digs and two aces.
Freshman middle blocker Chloe Hanel led Clarkson/Leigh with 17 kills and eight digs. Senior middle blocker Cassidy Hoffman finished with 15 kills. Senior outside hitter Kayden Schumacher had 13 kills and a team-high 29 digs. Junior setter Makenna Held recorded 48 assists and 10 digs.
No. 3 Norfolk Catholic 3, No. 2 Overton 1
The Knights dropped the first set but bounced back to win the next three and earn their spot in the Class C2 championship. Norfolk Catholic won 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-21.
Senior middle blocker Mary Fennessy and sophomore outside hitter Channatee Robles led Norfolk Catholic with 14 kills apiece while Robles added 10 digs for the double-double.
Senior middle blocker Haley Fleischman led the Eagles with 22 kills and 14 digs while senior middle Rachel Ecklund added 18 kills and a match-high 19 digs.
The C2 final will be an all-Norfolk affair as the top-seeded Eagles of Lutheran will face the Knights at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
No. 1 Omaha Skutt 3, No. 5 Ashland-Greenwood 0
The SkyHawks made short work of the Bluejays, sweeping them 25-11, 25-14, 25-12 to advance to the Class B final for the seventh straight year.
Nebraska commit Lindsay Krause recorded more kills than Ashland-Greenwood’s entire team, finishing with 19 kills and 12 digs. Seniors Ava Heyne and Cameron Cartwright chipped in 10 kills apiece . Senior lies Are Skala posted 30 digs and three aces — both match highs — while senior setter Allie Gray dished out 44 assists.
Carly vonRentzell led the Bluejays with seven kills and 10 digs.
No. 2 Norris 3, No. 3 Elkhorn 0
The Titans didn’t need much more time than the SkyHawks, sweeping Elkhorn 25-12, 25-13, 25-18 to set up a showdown with the SkyHawks on Saturday.
Nebraska commit Maisie Boesiger recorded a double-double with 35 assists and 12 digs while outside hitters Ella Waters (11 kills) and Sydney Jelinek (10 kills) paced the Titan attack.
First serve for the Class B final is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.
No. 1 Elkhorn South 3, No. 4 Papillion-La Vista 2
When Papillion-La Vista played Elkhorn South back on Sept. 10, the Storm swept the Monarchs 3-0. Nine days later, Papio took a set off of South before losing 2-1 in the LPS Classic.
The Monarchs got closer to getting over the hump in round three against Class A’s top team in the state semifinals, but Elkhorn still managed to hold on for a 3-2 win. The Storm won 25-19, 24-26, 19-25, 25-22, 15-8.
Nebraska middle blocker commit Rylee Gray recorded 21 kills on .333 hitting, six blocks and six digs. Junior Arkansas commit Kylie Weeks led the Storm with 27 kills and 17 digs. Junior libero Estella Zatechka, a Missouri commit and the daughter of former Nebraska football player Jon Zatechka, posted a new Class A record 53 digs while junior setter Madi Woodin, a South Dakota commit, dished out 64 assists and notched 11 digs.
Creighton commit Norah Sis closed her career with an outstanding performance with 31 kills and 30 digs while Louisiana-Monroe commit Logan Jeffus added 14 kills and five blocks. Freshman setter Reagan Hickey matched Woodin with 64 assists and added 12 digs while her older sister Morgan Hickey chipped in 11 kills.
No. 2 Papillion-La Vista South 3, No. 6 Millard West 0
The Wildcats pushed the reigning champions to extra points in the second set, but the Titans still held on to win and swept Millard West 25-19, 28-26, 25-13.
Papio South’s dynamic young outside hitters, sophomore Stella Adeyemi and freshman Lauren Medeck, put down 11 kills apiece while senior opposite hitter Breckyn Moore just missed a double-double with nine kills and nine digs. Kansas State commit Ava LeGrand, a junior setter, finished with 38 assists and nine digs while senior libero Delanie Vallinch led the defensive effort with 23 digs.
Junior outside hitter Ella Hazen posted a match-high 24 digs to go with her team-high 10 kills for the Wildcats while senior setter Bridget Smith finished with 27 assists and 14 digs.
The Titans and Storm will meet in the Class A final, a rematch from the Metro Tournament championship match that the Storm won in five sets. First serve will follow the completion of the Class B title match.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.