While most of her teammates wear white shoes, Skylar McCune-Janovich opts for a pair of neon yellow kicks you’d have to try not to notice. They’re part of what makes her stand out on the court.
Well, that and her jaw-dropping streak of seven straight kills in the third set, part of a match-high 27 in Friday's Class A semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
It was only fitting that she could provide the match-winning kill as well, as No. 4 Gretna won a dramatic match over No. 5 Millard North, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 23-25, 15-9.
“She’s a very aggressive, fearless player and I can’t say enough about her,” Gretna coach Mike Brandon said.
Gretna began the match with an intensity to its play, best seen by senior libero Kenedy Schaecher digging almost everything Millard North threw at her. After a strong showing against Millard West on Thursday, McCune-Janovich continued a stellar state tournament with five kills in the first set.
“The first set is an important set,” Brandon said. “It relaxes your team a little bit when you get that first set out of the way.”
The second set was competitive, as neither side claimed a lead greater than three points. A dramatic kick-save from Millard North in the midst of a long rally late in the set gave the Mustangs some momentum, and they evened up the match at one set apiece with the 25-23 win.
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The third set was just as close, with Millard North holding a 19-17 lead until McCune-Janovich completely took over. Swinging with purpose, she tallied seven straight kills before a net violation ultimately gave Gretna the third-set victory.
It seemed as though Gretna could run away with the match in the fourth set, building an early six-point lead, but Millard North came charging back for the 25-23 win. Its leading attackers all season long, McKenna Ruch and Eve Fountain, had excellent matches, totaling 25 and 22 kills, respectively.
The Dragon defense came up big in the fifth set, with four blocks, and offensive production from McCune-Janovich and Lydia Yost was enough to advance the Dragons into the Class A final Friday night.
“We have hung our hat on serving, passing and defense,” Brandon said. “I thought our defense played amazing against Ruch and Fountain.”
After joining the ranks of Class A just one season ago, the Dragons will now battle for their first state title in program history.
Gretna will take on Papillion-La Vista South, who swept Pius X Friday, in Saturday's 7 p.m. final at the Devaney Sports Center.