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The two semifinals in the Class A state volleyball tournament could not have played out more differently.

Where as the Lincoln Pius X Thunderbolts had to battle through a five-set thriller, the Millard North Mustangs rolled into the semifinals with a straight-set sweep of Gretna, 25-14, 25-18, 25-9 to advance to their third straight title match.

The second-ranked Mustangs have yet to lose a set this year at state, and their demeanor is that of a team hungry to avenge a loss in last year’s state title game.

“I thought the top eight seeds coming into this tournament were really close so I expected us to go longer in some matches, maybe,” Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson said. “I knew it could be like this if they played to their potential and played consistently. That’s what they did tonight.”

Consistency is one way to describe the Mustangs' performance against the Dragons. Another would be near flawlessness. Millard North was never in trouble against Gretna.

McKenna Ruch, Paige Holdsworth and Allie Kerns each had 13 kills for the Mustangs, and Isabel Lukens had 43 set assists.

The Mustangs enter Saturday playing nearly flawless volleyball but they’ll meet the Thunderbolts, who haven’t dropped a match since mid-September. The two teams have met twice this season and have not only split matches but split sets 2-2.

The two teams have plenty of experience with one another so what do the coaches have to say about the matchup?

“Pius (X) is a great volleyball team and they’re great all the way around,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be a tight match. It’s going to be the team that comes out loose, aggressive and sticks to the game plan that will come out ahead.”

Pius X coach Katie Wenz agreed that it should be a competitive match.

“It’s not going to be easy so we really have to play each point with a strong mental focus," she said. "We will be pushed, we will error, but it’s how we react that will determine which way the game will go.”

The two teams will meet at Devaney Sports Center. It will be the tournament’s final match and will take place at 7 p.m.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or


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