Trailing 14-11 in the deciding fifth set, Blue Hill’s hopes of getting back to its second state championship match in 14 years might have looked far-fetched on Friday afternoon at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
But the Bobcats bounced off the ropes and scored the final five points of the match to upset top-ranked Stanton 18-25, 26-24, 25-18, 17-25, 16-14 in a Class C-2 semifinal stunner.
Stanton, appearing in its fourth straight state semifinal round, appeared to take control of the final set with a 7-3 run. A Blue Hill net violation produced the first of three match points, but the Bobcats never wavered. During a Stanton time out, Blue Hill coach Kristi Allen told her squad to stay the course.
“I told them we’d been in this position before and to be mentally tough,” Allen said. “We talked about always relying on the fundamentals to get through, and I told them not to tip unless you have to. We had to swing.”
The No. 3 Bobcats (31-2) started the five-point spree with an unforced error by Stanton. Kacey Allen cut the deficit to 14-13 with a block, then Jamie Bonifas and Rylee Kohmetscher combined for another block to even the score at 14. Another block by Kacey Allen moved Blue Hill to match point and Kohmetscher closed it out with her 14th kill of the match.
Blue Hill struggled in the first set as Bree Burtwistle had seven of her match-high 24 kills for the Mustangs. Jessie Brandl, who finished with 23 kills, added five.
Blue Hill won the next two sets on the strength of Madison Menke’s attack. Menke combined to slam 11 of her 15 kills in the two sets. The Bobcats trailed 11-3 in the second but rallied to tie it at 15 and outlasted the Mustangs down the stretch.
Stanton sent the match to the fifth set after overcoming a 7-0 deficit in the fourth. An ace serve by Kacey Allen gave Blue Hill an 11-4 lead, but Stanton closed out the set with a 21-6 run, led by the hitting of Brandl.
Hartington CC 3, Superior 0: There will be a new champion crowned in Class C-2 volleyball.
Fourth-ranked Hartington Cedar Catholic made sure of that on Friday afternoon with a straight-set semifinal sweep of No. 2 Superior, 25-22, 25-19, 25-17, at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
With the win, the Trojans avenged a loss to Superior in last year’s state title match. They will face Blue Hill for the title Saturday at the Devaney Sports Center.
Much of Cedar Catholic’s plan for success was focused on stopping Kalynn Meyer, a 6-foot-3 junior middle hitter who has committed to Nebraska. Meyer entered the state tournament with 447 kills.
Meyer slammed a somewhat quiet 17 kills against a scrappy and confident Trojans’ defense that never backed away from the net and showed the ability to dig several of Meyer’s most powerful attacks. The defensive effort helped keep the Wildcats’ offense out of rhythm.
“I think the coaches were kind of nervous about her,” Cedar Catholic coach Denae Buss said of Meyer. “She’s good and she’s going to get kills but you have to beat the rest of their team first. It was surprising, in a way, because I don’t think we got too many blocks on her last year.”
The Trojans countered with an offense led by senior outside hitter Jada Cattau, who had a team-high 13 kills. Maddie Wieseler added 10 kills and 13 digs. Wieseler’s kill in the first game produced game point and Cattau closed it out with a kill to the middle.
“We’ve learned by hitting the ball at people instead of just volleying stuff over and tipping gets people out of sync,” Cattau said. “We have a lot of hitters who can get the job done. If we just keep hitting, we can keep teams out of sync.”
Cedar Catholic broke open a close second set with a late 6-0 run and scored four of the final five points as the confidence continued to build. The Trojans’ defense didn’t allow a run of more than two consecutive points.