After losing in the Class A state volleyball final last season, it was clear to see how badly Lincoln Pius X wanted a state title this season.
In the end, perhaps the No. 2 Thunderbolts wanted it a little too badly. Their usually well-oiled offense struggled to get going Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena, and No. 10 Papillion-La Vista South found pockets of space time and time again.
For a Thunderbolt team that hadn’t been swept in a five-set match all season, those factors led to 25-23, 25-15, 25-23 loss to the Titans.
“I know we all wanted it really bad, and when you want it so bad, you kind of second-guess yourself,” Pius X coach Katie Wenz said.
The second-guessing didn’t take long to set in during the first set. While the Thunderbolt offense briefly clicked, with Kylen Sealock getting some early success, it didn’t last long. The Titans scored the final three points of the set.
After Pius X took a 6-2 lead in the second set, the Titans won 15 of the next 16 points to take control of the set. The Bolts' Lauren Taubenheim, Carly Rodaway and Alexis Markowski were stuffed time and time again, and while Pius X tried to make adjustments, the match began to slip away.
“Every time we changed it, they changed it too,” Wenz said. “Their block was on and our block was off.”
Going up against a red-hot team that hadn’t dropped a set since Oct. 23, the Thunderbolts had little room for error.
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Just when it looked as if things were trending in their favor, with a 20-15 lead in set three, the mistakes occurred suddenly and fast. While Pius X failed to respond, the Titans knew exactly what they needed to do to close out the match.
“We’ve been on an uphill climb since the LPS Tournament,” Titan coach Katie Wright said. “This group, we’ve learned from adversity and that’s served us very well in the last stretch of the season, because we have gotten down many, many times, but we’ve learned to fight through that.”
The Titans will face Gretna in Saturday's final at the Devaney Sports Center, looking to earn their first state title since 2012.
While the Thunderbolts once again fell shy of their state-title goal, Wenz still considers the season a success in many regards.
“One game isn’t going to define our season; we still had a heck of a lot of success; a lot of kids have done a lot of great things and I’m proud of the team,” the coach said.