With the path to a state title possibly going through two undefeated teams, Superior entered the Class C-2 state volleyball tournament as self-appointed underdogs.
Nothing to lose and everything to gain.
"We just went out and said play your game, have fun … once we get to going, don't let up," Wildcats junior setter Megan Miller said.
Well, No. 5 Superior got going in a hurry in Friday's semifinal against No. 2 Nebraska Christian and didn't let up in an impressive 25-9, 25-18, 25-22 sweep at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
But it was that lopsided first-set score that set the tone for the entire match. The Wildcats got rolling with an 11-2 run early before Miller had a kill followed by an ace serve to start a 12-0 run that put Superior firmly in control at 23-5.
"I feel like both teams were in shock for the first two sets," Superior coach Kelsea Blevins said. "They were in shock about what was happening and we were in shock that we were able to do that."
Blevins said Superior was able to get Nebraska Christian out of system early and got the Eagles scrambling. Nebraska Christian coach Tonya Ostrand said the Eagles handle being out of system relatively well, so it wasn't so much that as "atrocious" serve reception, especially early.
And presence of 6-foot-3 Nebraska commit Kalynn Meyer on the other side of the net.
"We just played really intimidated," Ostrand said. "We were obviously worried about the Meyer girl, but they have some other great players as well. We kind of lost sight of what we were doing and their other players, just simply by focusing on her."
Meyer had 18 kills to lead the Wildcats (27-4), along with three ace serves, three ace blocks and 14 digs. Claire Ostrand had nine kills to lead the Eagles (32-1).
But Blevins called the win a "whole team effort every moment of the game." Meyer drew the bulk of the Eagles' attention and opened up other avenues, as Miller and Nicki Kirchhoff had six kills each and Superior was able to move attackers around with both Miller and Teghan Sullivan, who each had 15 set assists apiece, finding the pins.
"That's what a great player does to you, even when they're struggling, which (Meyer) struggled a little bit tonight," Ostrand said. "The other girls are stepping it up and playing with confidence just because of the confidence she gives them."
Superior advances to its first state final and will face another undefeated team in No. 1 Hartington Cedar Catholic in Saturday's 1 p.m. final at the Devaney Sports Center. Blevins saw the Trojans during Thursday's opening round, and Superior practiced right after them on Friday morning at Nebraska Wesleyan.
"They are a really incredible team with strong hitters who push pin to pin, but that they make mistakes," said Blevins of her takeaways. "They're just a bunch of 15- to 18-year old girls who love volleyball, just like us."