Two weeks ago at the Allison Weston Monarch Invitational, Omaha Skutt suffered its first setback of the season, falling to Lincoln Southwest in the semifinals. From there, the SkyHawks bounced back to beat Papillion-La Vista South in the third-place game, starting a new winning streak that grew to seven on Saturday with a 4-0 showing at the SkyHawk Invitational.
“We’ve grown a lot in the last couple weeks,” Skutt coach Renee Saunders said. “We’ve figured a lot of things out as a team, like what makes us tick, when things are bad how to fix them. I think our growth the last two weeks has been extraordinary which it needed to be or else we don’t have success this weekend.”
The tournament was originally supposed to have an eight-team field, but the pandemic led to Sterling (Illinois), St. Thomas Aquinas (Kansas) and Lee’s Summit West (Missouri) all pulling out of the tournament. Instead of bracket play, Skutt turned the tournament into a round-robin event with the five teams remaining —Skutt, Papio South, Lincoln East, St. Teresa’s (Kansas) and West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley — all playing each other.
“I thought the format was great,” Saunders said. “I think the competition was great. There were a lot of really good games. It was fun.”
The final match of the day between Skutt and West Des Moines Valley was of special interest to Huskers fans as Skutt’s Krause, a 2021 Nebraska commit, faced off against Valley’s Hayden Kubik, a 2022 Huskers pledge. The future Huskers both put on a show with 12 kills apiece, but the SkyHawks pulled out the win 25-22, 25-20.
In the first set, Skutt led 22-21 when Krause put down a big kill. Kubik answered for the Tigers with a kill of her own, but Krause jumped over the back of one of her teammates chasing a ball and still managed to terminate it, giving the SkyHawks set point. Senior Cameron Cartwright finished it off with a kill on the next rally.
Valley jumped out to a 6-3 lead in set two, but Krause served a 5-0 run for the SkyHawks that gave Skutt a 9-8 lead. After a couple of ties, Skutt built up a five-point advantage a couple of times before the Tigers pulled to within two at 20-18. Skutt finished strong from there to close out the day and secure the title.
“That was a good game,” Saunders said. “They have a lot of weapons, they ball control well, their defense is really scrappy. It wasn’t pretty by any means on either side and I basically told the girls ‘Let’s win the battle of ugly.’ They were making errors, we were making errors, and when it gets to that point you just have to string a couple points together just to kind of get an edge and then hopefully you can finish.”
Skutt started the day with a 25-15, 25-16 sweep over Lincoln East. After that, the SkyHawks had a rematch with St. Teresa’s who Skutt swept at a tournament in Kansas City back in September.
St. Teresa’s gave the SkyHawks a fight in the first set as the SkyHawks broke a 21-all tie with a 3-0 run featuring two kills by Cartwright sandwiching a Krause ace. St. Teresa’s saved two set points before Abby Schomers ended it with a kill.
Skutt opened the second set with a 4-0 run and never looked back en route to a 25-13 win to seal the sweep.
Skutt’s third match of the day came against the Papio South Titans, who were also 2-0 heading into the match. The Titans arrived at Skutt on Saturday sporting a 20-3 record with two of those losses coming to the SkyHawks, and Skutt completed the season sweep in round three with a 25-19, 25-15 win.
Skutt improved to 19-1 on the season. Krause averaged 5.75 kills per set on .425 hitting and served up seven aces in the tournament.
“It was super fun to play,” Krause said. “We always look forward to our tournament because we get to play very high-level teams. So it’s just super fun to play because we love playing really close matches. It’s just so much more fun.”
The Titans closed out the afternoon with a 25-19, 25-22 sweep against Lincoln East to finish 3-1 and claim second place. They took Valley down 25-20, 25-23 in their first match then followed it up with a 19-25, 25-18, 25-23 win against St. Teresa’s.
“It’s been great,” Papio South coach Katie Tarman said. “I really like coming to this tournament because it teaches us how to learn about a team really, really fast. We have to figure out what kind of team they are without knowing much about them, so that teaches us something in and of itself. Then to be able to apply what we kind of figure out really fast and compete with them, both teams, St. Teresa’s and West Des Moines [Valley], they’re good. They’re both good teams, so they were really fun to play. Probably two of our most emotional matches of they year. They were really fun.”
Valley finished 2-2 with wins over St. Teresa’s and Lincoln East. St. Teresa went 1-3 while the Spartans finished 0-4.
Stay tuned to Hail Varsity for more from the Skutt Invitational coming soon.
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.