Sidney kept the Nebraska state volleyball tournament from being a wipeout for the Panhandle, holding on for a 5-set opening round Class-B victory over Norris last night at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island 25-23, 12-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-9.
By the time the 3rd-seeded Red Raiders took the court, the only other two Panhandle teams…Chadron and Leyton…had already been eliminated in straight sets…leaving Sidney as the region’s last hope.
They responded by winning the first and third sets, but the momentum seemed to be against them going into the final set.
Sidney coach Sarah Wilson said after the match that one thing she likes about her players is their ability to maintain their confidence when things don’t go well…such as at the end of the fourth set.
The Red Raiders grabbed an early 5-2 lead in the decisive 5th set and never gave it up…helped by 6 unforced Norris errors, including on 2 of the final 3 points.
The win puts Sidney into the semifinals for the first time time since 1993. They meet Gretna, who upset 2nd-seeded Omaha Gross in 4 sets…25-20, 26-24, 12-25, 27-25. The match is in the Heartland Center at 4:00 CT.
In C-1, Chadron was out for revenge after losing to Ogallala last Friday in the B-6 District final, but the Indians had an answer for everything the Cardinals tried in taking a 25-19, 26-24, 26-24 sweep.
Chadron coach Don Matt said afterward that the big difference was state tournament experience. It was the Cardinals first trip to state since 2003 while Ogallala was there for the seventh straight year, and Mott said his club just didn’t handle it well.
He also said the Cardinals didn’t handle the Ogallala serving, which kept Chadron from getting into its attack. Ogallala coach Steve Morgan said he’s emphasized aggressive serving the past 2 seasons.
Chadron was led by Ashlyn Eitemiller with a match-high 15 kills and a block and by Alia Brennan with 9 kills and 6 blocks. Chadron ends the season 27-4 with 2 losses to Ogallala and 2 losses to Sidney.
Morgan Reed finished with 13 kills for Ogallala, in the semifinals for the first time since 2004. They’ll take on 2nd-seeded Columbus Scotus at 6:30 CT.
In D-2, Leyton won its first 31 games this season, but ends with a 2-match losing streak after falling to Mullen in the district finals and yesterday to 5th-seeded Cedar Valley 25-23, 25-11, 25-21.
Leyton couldn’t match the Cedar Valley defense, which had 79 digs in the 3 sets, or the Mavericks’ Skyler Erickson…who had 23 kills and 30 digs. Leyton coach Jodi Craig said Erickson was one of the best players the Warriors had seen this year.
Kelsey Waite and Ernest each had five kills to pace Leyton, which ends 31-2. Cedar Valley moves on to play Mead in the semifinals.
Mullen came into the state tournament as a district champion, but as the 7th seed and couldn’t shake an early case of the nerves against Humphrey…dropping the first set 25-5. They regained their composure, but still lost the next 2 sets 25-17 and 25-22 to end the season 22-10.