It was nail-biting. It was a fierce battle with a feisty opponent. It was unpredictable. But in the end, it was heartbreaking. Marian’s varsity volleyball team fell just short of clinching a fourth straight Class A title at the 2016 NSAA State tournament on Nov. 12 in Lincoln.
It was at the bitter end of an already long, tough game against the season-long rival Papillion-La Vista South when the Crusaders dropped the fifth and final set, resulting in an overall devastating defeat.
On Nov. 11, the Crusaders showed up to the state tournament with fiery energy and unparalleled strength. Their 25-14, 25-21, 25-15 sweep of No. 7 Lincoln Southwest helped to set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
This definitive win advanced the team to the semifinals where they met Papio South. “We came out onto the court prepared,” Coach Mrs. Amy McLeay said, “and then we unfortunately let them creep back in a bit, but we wanted to set a precedent.”
Throughout the entire tournament, Marian played without junior middle blocker Sarah Wing because of an accident in practice resulting in a broken foot the week before state, but the Crusaders were still close to the finish line of their semifinal match against Papio South with a 21-19 lead in the fourth set.
Right-side hitter Mary Katherine Wolfe, Marian’s lone senior, had 19 kills, three blocks and 25 digs to lead the Crusaders. Outside hitters junior Ashtynne Alberts and sophomore Emily Bressman finished with 18 and 16 kills, respectively, while junior Lily Heim totaled 54 assists. Overall, it was a hard-fought game on Marian’s part–by no means did the Crusaders give the win to Papio South easily.
“It was a great game. A two-pointer in game five, you can’t ask for a better match,” McLeay said. “We got too comfortable with the lead there in the fourth set. That can’t happen when you play a team as talented as Papio South.”
The state tournament ended early for the Crusaders on Friday night, as they had hoped to advance to the championship match on Saturday. Team members are hopeful for redemption next season, though, as they have a young team, hungry for more.