Norris and Waverly both took care of business in their respective pools at the Norris Invitational on Saturday, finishing 3-0. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions, there was no championship game between the pool winners.
Fortunately, the two rivals got a chance to settle things just three days later thanks to a previously scheduled regular season match at Norris on Tuesday. The showdown between two of the best teams in Class B with future Huskers on both sides was well worth the wait, however, as the match went the distance.
“We were super excited to finally play them because we definitely wanted to play them this weekend,” Norris junior setter Maisie Boesiger said. “But since we couldn’t we just got extra time to really focus on what we needed to work on and we watched a lot of film.”
The extra prep time paid off as the Titans (10-1) defended their home court and pulled out a five-set win: 29-27, 15-25, 25-16, 22-25, 15-11. The win was the first for Norris’ seniors over Waverly during the regular season.
“Every time we play each other it’s a barn-burner,” Norris coach Christina Boesiger said. “Every time. We kind of expected that. It’s nice to come out on top.”
Boesiger, who committed to Nebraska on Sept. 5, posted a career-high 50 assists in the win as she dished the ball all around the court. Three different hitters notched double-digit kills, a fourth added seven kills and a fifth chipped in four more.
“My passers did a great job of keeping us in system this game,” Maisie Boesiger said. “All the balls were right to me so it was easy for me to dish to all my hitters. We have such a spread offense, all of them can step up when I need them and they’re always getting there and putting the ball away when they need to.”
Boesiger added 14 digs for her first double-double of the season. Junior outside hitter Ella Waters led the Titans with 18 kills on .308 hitting. Senior Kalli Kroeker contributed 14 kills, 10 digs and four blocks. Junior Sydney Jelinek added seven kills. Senior libero Molly Ramsey served up three aces while recording a match-high 24 digs.
Senior outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein, another Nebraska commit, led Waverly (7-2) with 18 kills and 21 digs, but the Titans made it tough on her as she also recorded a season-high 14 errors while hitting .093.
“Man, she’s good,” Christina Boesinger said. “We knew going into it she’s going to get her fair share of kills but we also got some blocks on her and we knew that was going to happen. We knew she’d adjust and hit some shots. She’s a great player, and I think just being OK with “she’s going to blast a few balls and hey, just next point and move on” is just the mentality you have to have when you have someone who can jump. We had big girls up there blocking and she’d go over the top of them.”
Junior middle blocker Bekka Allick, the third Nebraska commit in the match, finished with 11 kills on .391 hitting and five blocks. Senior Bailey Jeffers chipped in 11 kills.
The two teams traded big shots right from the first serve. Norris put together runs of 6-0 and 5-0, but Waverly answered both times. Norris pulled ahead 24-21 and looked poised to take the first set, but Allick took over with a kill and a block. Waverly setter Maddy Wells served up an ace to tie it up. Jelinek gave Norris another set point, but Allick put down back-to-back kills to turn the tables.
The sides alternated points until a 27-27 tie, and from there Norris finished it off with back-to-back kills.
The second set belonged to the Vikings as Waverly built up a big lead midway through the set and held on to tie up the match at one game apiece. Lauenstein put down six kills on 11 swings to lead the way.
Waverly stepped up its serving in game three as the Titans jumped out to an 8-2 lead and never looked back. Norris recorded three aces in the set and kept the Vikings out of system all game.
“We came into this game knowing that serving would be really important, getting them out of system,” Maisie Boesiger said. “We wanted to execute and make sure we had fast, aggressive serves just so it wasn’t an easy ball right to them.”
The fourth set featured a handful of lead changes. Norris scored five straight late in the set to pull ahead 22-19, but Waverly answered with five straight of its own including two kills apiece by Lauenstein and Allick. Norris got one point back on a Waverly attack error but Mackenzie Scurto finished it off with a kill to send the match to a fifth set.
Norris struck first in game five, but Waverly responded with a 4-0 run aided by three straight Norris attack errors. Norris called a timeout to regroup and turned things around with a 5-0 run including back-to-back blocks on Lauenstein by Gracie Kircher and Brianna Stai.
“That was huge,” Christina Boesiger said. “That was really good because we hadn’t really blocked her a ton; we slowed down some of her balls, but we hadn’t blocked. I think that just gave our girls so much confidence because when you can get a block on her, it’s fun for everybody because she is such a dynamic player.”
Norris tied it at 6-6 and 7-7, but Norris put together another 4-0 run including a pair of kills by Waters. Waverly cut the deficit down to one at 12-11, but Norris closed the match on a 3-0 run as Kroeker sealed it with a tip shot.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) September 16, 2020
“That’s called a Kalli Kroeker shot,” Maisie Boesiger said. “We’ve played club together for many years and that’s a shot that she loves. I knew it was coming as soon as she called for a three.”
Kroeker had three kills on the last six rallies.
“For our side of it, we limited our errors,” Christina Boesiger sad. “We had more errors — in the sets that we lost we felt like we had too many unforced errors. So really going into that last game, it didn’t start off well … but after that we just put the focus on taking care of the ball on our side. Man, these girls played with heart. Waverly did too; it was a great game all the way around I think.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Norris as the Vikings will head to Lincoln Southeast on Saturday to take part in the LPS Classic. Elkhorn South, Papillion-La Vista and Bellevue West are the other three teams in Norris’ pool of the round-robin tournament. Waverly will head to Grand Island on Thursday to take on Northwest.