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In assessing Class A No. 1 Omaha Marian's season and current run in the state tournament, only one glaring question comes to mind: How has this team lost twice this season?

The way the Crusaders have played over the past two days in Lincoln is something to behold. Marian again rolled through a top-10 opponent Friday, this time defeating No. 3 Papillion-La Vista South in straight sets 25-10, 25-13, 25-15 in one of the most impressive performances by any team, from any class, this season.

The Titans had no answer for Marian’s powerful efficiency that saw runs of five, eight and even 11 at times throughout the match.

“(Marian) was at a whole other level tonight,” Papillion-La Vista South coach Brad Reichmuth said. “They were 100 percent a different team. They were so focused. They’re on a mission and we were the next victim.”

The trademark Marian versatility was once again on display on the state stage. Emily Bressman was the only Crusader to finish with double-digit kills.

Setter Lily Heim kept everyone in system and put her hitters in the best position to succeed on her way to 36 set assists.

Madelynn Wiedenfeld, Sarah Wing and Lauren Isenberg all had seven kills in the win and kept the Titans’ defense out of sync throughout the sweep.

“I can’t say enough about the teamwork of these kids,” Marian coach Amy McLeay said. “The energy that we have from every kid in our program and the work ethic, that’s demonstrated when you have kids go out and put a performance up like we did today.”

The win was a bit of redemption for the Crusaders. The Titans eliminated Marian last season in the state tournament to stand in the way of a possible fourth straight title.

“All these kids were on that court last season, we only graduated one senior, so they remember that five-set, two-point loss,” McLeay said. “That sticks with you for a long time.”

Saturday now provides a shot at the next best thing to four straight titles: four titles in five seasons.

“Their mission isn’t quite over, and we really have practiced tough this past week,” McLeay said. “Watched a lot of film, focused on our weaknesses and tried to make them our strengths. We’re not quite there yet.”

Marian faces No. 4 Millard North, which swept No. 5 Papillion-La Vista in the other semifinal.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or


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