Taya Beller

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family's Taya Beller celebrates a point during the 2018 Class D-1 state volleyball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Taya Beller, Humphrey/LHF

Year: Senior.

College: Wayne State (volleyball).

Volleyball: Led the Bulldogs to the Class D-1 state championship match and finished with some big numbers: 500 digs, 422 kills, 125 blocks and 47 ace serves. She had 28 and 27 kills, respectively, in her team's first two state tourney matches and was named to the D-1 all-state first team.

Basketball: Earned all-state second-team honors after leading the state-bound Bulldogs in points (14.0 ppg) and rebounds (9.3). She had eight double-doubles.

Track and field: Won the Class D triple jump at state with a leap of 37-1¼; also was a state qualifier in the 200.

Bishop Neumann vs. North Bend, 2.28

Bishop Neumann's Kelsie Cada (12) scores against North Bend Central's Megan Ortmeier (32) in a Class C-1 first-round game at the girls state basketball tournament Feb. 28 at the Devaney Sports Center.

Kelsie Cada, Bishop Neumann

Year: Senior.

College: Wayne State (volleyball).

Volleyball: Earned third-team Super-State and Class C-1 first-team honors after finishing with 437 kills (4.7 per set) and 453 digs (4.9 per set) for the Cavaliers, who reached the state semifinals; had a big state meet, totaling 58 kills and 75 digs over three matches.

Basketball: Was critical down the stretch in helping Neumann to a Class C-1 state championship; averaged 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54% from the field en route to earning C-1 all-state first-team honors; had 21 points in a first-round overtime win against North Bend Central at state.

Track and field: Qualified for state in the 800 and anchored the Cavaliers' 3,200- and 1,600-meter relay teams. The 3,200 squad finished third.

State track meet, 5/19/18

Syracuse's Meredith Clark competes during her victory in the Class B shot put at the state track meet in 2018 at Omaha Burke Stadium.

Meredith Clark, Syracuse

Year: Senior.

College: South Dakota (track and field).

Volleyball: Earned second-team all-state honors in Class C-1 after helping the 26-4 Rockets to their first state tournament berth since 2013; ranked first on the team in kills (310), first in blocks (52) and added 152 digs.

Basketball: Four-year starter averaged 13 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who finished 17-9 and nearly knocked off Mitchell in the Class C-1 district round; earned all-state honorable-mention and all-conference first-team honors.

Track and field: Took third in the Class B discus with a throw of 135-1 and third in the shot put with a throw of 41-8 in helping the Rockets to back-to-back state championships; won the Class B shot put title as a junior.

Millard North vs. Lincoln Southwest, A, 11/9/17

Lincoln Southwest's Jaden Ferguson (26) hits over Millard North blockers in a Class A first-round at the state volleyball tournament match at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Nov. 9, 2017.

Jaden Ferguson, Lincoln Southwest

Year: Senior.

College: Northwest Missouri State (volleyball).

Volleyball: Received all-state honorable-mention and all-city honors after leading the Silver Hawks in kills (356); also was second on the team in digs (309) and service aces (40); four-year starter.

Basketball: Played a leading role in helping the Silver Hawks reach the Class A state final; was named to the Super-State second team and Class A all-state first team after averaging 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, and scored a season-high 31 against Lincoln East in HAC tourney.

Track and field: In her only season competing in shot put, Ferguson finished sixth at the state meet with a throw of 39-3½.

Waverly vs. Elkhorn South, 11/09

Elkhorn South's Rylee Gray makes a kill against Waverly on Nov. 9, 2018, during Class B state semifinal play at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Rylee Gray, Elkhorn South

Year: Sophomore.

College: Nebraska (volleyball commit).

Volleyball: Earned Super-State second-team and Class B first-team all-state honors after recording 345 kills (3.2 per set) and 123 blocks (1.3 per set) for the Storm, which finished as state runner-up in Class B. Had six matches of six blocks or more.

Basketball: Averaged nearly a double-double (10.8 points and 9.6 rebounds per game) against a Class A-heavy schedule; helped the Storm reach the Class B state semifinals for a second straight season; earned Class B all-state second-team honors.

Track and field: Finished tied for 16th in the Class A high jump at the state meet with a leap of 5-0; set a school record in the event at districts with a 5-3.

Millard South vs. Lincoln East, 2.28

Lincoln East’s Olivia Kugler (3) battles for the loose ball with Millard South’s Jayme Horan (12) in the first half of a Class A first-round game at the girls state basketball tournament Feb. 28 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Jayme Horan, Millard South

Year: Junior.

College: Creighton (basketball commit).

Softball: Solidified herself as one of the top hitters in the state, batting .529 with 15 homers and 12 doubles from the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Her defense at first base was strong, too, and Horan was named a Super-State first-teamer.

Basketball: Received Super-State first-team honors and was named Class A all-state honorary captain after averaging 20 points and eight rebounds for the Patriots, who were No. 1 for a good part of the season. Horan's ability to stretch the court and her scoring versatility made her a matchup problem for opponents.

Archbishop Bergan vs. Dundy County-Stratton, 3.2

Dundy County-Stratton’s Sable Lambley (left) knocks the ball from Archbishop Bergan’s Haley Kempf as McKinzie Baney (23) looks on in the second half of the Class D-1 state basketball final March 2 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Haley Kempf, Archbishop Bergan

Year: Senior.

College: Northwest Missouri State.

Volleyball: Received second-team all-state honors after compiling 271 kills, 221 digs, 42 blocks and 29 aces for the Class D-1 state champion Knights.

Basketball: Played a leading role in the Knights capping a sweep of state volleyball and basketball titles; earned Class D-1 all-state honors after averaging 16.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 50% from the field; became fourth player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points.

Track and field: Took seventh at state in the long jump (Class C) with a leap of 16-4½. Jumped 16-8½ at the district meet.

Northwest vs. Crete, 3.2

Crete’s Morgan Maly (30) reacts after a second-half by Northwest in the Class B state final March 2 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Morgan Maly, Crete

Year: Junior.

College: Creighton (basketball commit).

Softball: Helped lead Crete to a second straight Class B state appearance; was named to Super-State second team and Class B all-state first team at catcher after hitting .450 with 45 hits, eight homers and 38 RBIs.

Basketball: Was nearly unstoppable, averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game while eclipsing 1,200 career points; named to the Super-State and Class B all-state first teams after helping lead the Cardinals to a state runner-up finish; averaged 20 points in three state tourney games.

Track and field: Medaled at state in the discus, finishing seventh with a throw of 126-10. She also placed 10th in the shot put.

Seward vs. Northwest, 2.28

Seward's Camryn Opfer (10) scores against Northwest's Whitney Jensen (right) in a Class B state first-round game on Feb. 28 at the Devaney Sports Center. 

Camryn Opfer, Seward

Year: Senior.

College: Concordia (volleyball).

Volleyball: Earned Class B all-state second-team honors after racking up 527 kills (5.7 per set). She also led the Bluejays in digs (345) and added 35 blocks. She had 35 kills in a four-set win against Columbus Lakeview.

Basketball: After playing in more of a post role as junior, Opfer expanded her skill set and played with more range as a senior. She earned Class B all-state first-team honors after averaging 11.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. She also hit a three-pointer late in the Class B district final to lift Seward into state.

Soccer: The Bluejays' starting goalkeeper made 96 saves, allowing only 14 goals over 13 games (1.3 per game); she earned all-state honorable-mention honors after making five shutouts; also played minutes at forward, recording five goals.

Lincoln East vs. Millard West, 5.11

Millard West's Chaise Pfanstiel (center) scores against Lincoln East's Amanda Finnell (00) as Spartans defender Del Roberts (3) looks on in overtime during the Class A girls state soccer semifinals at Morrison Stadium in Omaha on May 11.

Chaise Pfanstiel, Millard West

Year: Senior.

College: Northwest Missouri State (basketball).

Basketball: Among the top 15 players in Class A; averaged 14 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game on her way to earning all-state honorable-mention honors; averaged 18.3 points per game over her final four games. 

Soccer: Scored 21 goals during the season and played her best soccer at Morrison Stadium, finishing with five goals in three games in helping the Wildcats win the Class A state championship; earned Super-State first-team and Class A all-state honors.

Waverly vs. Elkhorn, 2.28

Waverly's Sydni Schernikau (5) scores against Elkhorn's Tia Murray (35) in a Class B state first-round game on Feb. 28 at the Devaney Sports Center. 

Sydni Schernikau, Waverly

Year: Senior.

College: Concordia (softball).

Softball: Vikings' leadoff hitter hit .356 with 36 hits, 41 runs scored and four triples. She also swiped 33 bases in 34 attempts in helping Waverly reach 22 wins.

Basketball: Earned second-team Class B all-state honors after running point for the Vikings, who reached the state semifinals; averaged 12.0 points per game and was relentless on the defensive side of the court.

Track and field: Was one of Class B's top sprinters, finishing fifth in the 100 (:12.57) and fourth in the 200 (:25.87); also was part of the Vikings' second-place finish in the 1,600 relay and third-place finish in the 400 relay.

Class D-2, Humphrey St. Francis vs. Falls City Sacred Heart, 3/3/18

Humphrey Saint Francis' Allison Weidner (2) dribbles through Falls City Sacred Heart defenders Abby Fiegener (left) and Ahren Ebel (right) during the 2018 Class D-2 final at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Allison Weidner, Humphrey SF

Year: Sophomore.

College: Undecided (receiving Division I interest/offers in basketball).

Volleyball: Received all-state honorable-mention honors after finishing second on the team in kills (177), second in blocks (31) and third in digs (296).

Basketball: Was named the Class D-2 all-state honorary captain after averaging 19.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game; she's one of the best point guards in the state, regardless of class.

Track and field: Won Class D golds in the 400 (:59.02) and 800 (2:20.41) races for the second straight season; also anchored the Flyers' 3,200 relay team, which took gold, as well.

Wynot vs. Exeter-Milligan, 11.8.2018

Exeter-Miligan's Katherine White (1) attempts a kill against Wynot in a Class D-2 first-round state volleyball match at Lincoln Southeast on Nov. 8.

Katherine White, Exeter-Milligan

Year: Senior.

College: Missouri Western (volleyball).

Volleyball: Was named the Class D-2 all-state honorary captain after piling 454 kills (5.3 per set) for the statebound Timberwolves; was second on the team in digs (250), first in ace serves (63) and second in blocks (39).

Basketball: Was the Timberwolves' second-best player, averaging 9.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game while overcoming a midseason injury; earned Class D-2 all-state honorable-mention honors.

Track and field: Showed her versatility in the sport, placing fourth in the Class D long jump (16-10¾) and third in the 100 hurdles (:15.86); also ran the 100 and 400 during the season.

Grand Island Central Catholic vs. Hastings St. Cecilia 1.24

Grand Island Central Catholic's Megan Woods (34) shoots over Hastings St. Cecilia’s Tori Thomas on Jan. 24 at Lincoln Christian High School.

Megan Woods, Grand Island CC

Year: Senior.

College: Omaha (volleyball).

Volleyball: Had nearly 500 kills in her final season — and added 407 digs — while hitting at a .306 clip in leading the Crusaders back to the state tournament; earned Super-State third-team honors; finished atop the school's all-time charts in kills with 1,618.

Basketball: Received Class C-1 all-state second-team honors after averaging 16.9 points and 10.8 rebounds for one of the top teams in the class; Woods was a double-double machine for the Crusaders and finished first in school history in career rebounds and second in scoring.

Tennis: Teamed up with senior Jenna Lowry to win a Class B state championship at No. 2 doubles. The duo entered state as the No. 3 seed and finished 26-2.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.


Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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