Omaha Skutt will try to make it three state titles in a row after the No. 1 SkyHawks took down No. 4 Elkhorn South 27-25, 29-27, 18-25, 25-18 in the Class B state volleyball semifinals Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The win gives the SkyHawks their fourth consecutive title match appearance. But the Storm by no means made it easy on the two-time defending champions.
“Those first two sets, I don’t even know how we got the win,” Skutt coach Renee Saunders said. “They showed heart and passion and character. Those first two sets we were losing. Especially the second set where we were down 24-21, it was like we were playing for momentum to the next set. But they found a way to win.”
The teams went back and forth after Skutt tied the set at 24 and key kills from Lily Heyne and Lindsay Krause sparked them to the 29-27 win.
The Storm controlled the third set, keeping Skutt at arm’s length the whole time. The SkyHawks rebounded for a relatively easy final set victory.
When Skutt and Elkhorn South met on Oct. 31 in the B-3 subdistrict final, the Storm came out strong, taking the first set. Saunders said a similar thing could have happened Friday.
“The biggest difference was they just came off a match, so they started off really aggressive at us and we kind of had to build that momentum,” she said of the last meeting. “We fought back (in the first) but they won. In this one, we were behind, fought back and won.”
The SkyHawks have their share of experienced players, but the underclassmen came up big. Krause, a 6-foot-3 freshman, led the way with 23 kills and sophomore Megan Skovsende added 19 kills to go along with 14 digs.
Senior Taylor O’Malley chipped in with 11 digs and had 63 set assists.
Logan Connealy had 20 kills and 11 digs to lead Elkhorn South. Rylee Gray had 14 kills eight solo blocks and Mackenzie Saitta added 13 kills. The Storm finished the season 26-14.
Skutt (34-8) will play No. 2 Omaha Duchesne, the team Skutt beat to reach the final last year, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The SkyHawks beat the Cardinals twice in the regular season.
“The kids just need to relax and enjoy the game and enjoy each other,” Saunders said. “We’re not there to put on a show. We’re there to enjoy it and hopefully the best things happen. Fingers crossed.”