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Waverly vs. Elkhorn South, 11/09

Elkhorn South's Rylee Gray makes a kill against Waverly on Friday during semifinal play at Pinnacle Bank Arena. 

Not only is a state title on the line when top-ranked Elkhorn South tangles with third-ranked Omaha Skutt on Saturday, but bragging rights between future Huskers Rylee Gray and Lindsay Krause are also on the line.

Gray, Elkhorn South’s 6’4 sophomore middle hitter is looking forward to facing the 6’3 Krause and the SkyHawks. The Storm upended Skutt 3-1 back on October 30th in subdistricts.

“She’s (Krause) a great player,” Gray said. “Skutt’s a great team, and it will be a lot of fun out there tomorrow.”

Krause said facing Gray is always fun. Not only are they on rival high school teams, but the two face off against one another on opposite club teams, as well.

“It’s so much fun to play each other,” Krause said. “We have to come in with the mindset we came in with tonight. There will definitely be some bragging rights.”

Successful night for the McCormicks: There’s bound to be some sibling pride in the McCormick household this weekend. Omaha Skutt outside hitter Shayla McCormick turned in a banner effort in Skutt’s 3-0 win over Omaha Duchesne in the Class B semifinals Friday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Shayla McCormick pounded 15 kills and recorded three blocks as the SkyHawks advanced to Saturday’s Class B title match at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

Her brother Ryan was busy Friday as well. Ryan, the SkyHawks’ senior starting quarterback scored the game-clinching touchdown on a 24-yard bootleg as Skutt defeated Waverly 34-14 to move into the finals of the Class B state football playoffs.

When told after the SkyHawks’ volleyball win that older brother got the win and scored a TD, Shayla couldn’t help but smile.

“Really, they won?” she said. “That’s awesome!”

Shayla went on to explain that dad went to the football game (in Waverly) and mom split time at both games. She was also quick to point out that older brother will be in attendance tomorrow supporting her and her SkyHawks’ teammates as they take on Elkhorn South at 5 p.m. Skutt will be trying to win its fourth-straight state title.

“He (Ryan) gets to come cheer us on tomorrow,” Shayla said.

Sister, sister: Taya Beller’s older sister, Tarrin, was a starting middle blocker as a freshman on Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family's ’s D-2 state title team in 2012. Tarrin, a former all-stater, is a junior middle blocker for Wayne State, the school Taya has committed to play for next season.

“She wasn’t able to come today because she had class, but she’s planning on being here tomorrow,” Taya said Friday. “I talked to her last night, and she told me to play my game and do my best.”

Taya will join a line of middle blockers from Humphrey who have been stars at Wayne State. Former Lincoln Journal Star girls high school athlete of the year Alyssa Frauendorfer was a senior all-stater on the 2012 title squad and later was an All-American at Wayne State.

Giraffes and Eagles: A giraffe had a spot near the bench during the BDS-Mullen match Friday.

OK, so maybe a stuffed toy giraffe.

But either way, the new BDS mascot, so to speak, has been a motivating factor in the Eagles' run to Saturday's Class D-2 state championship match.

"We've had a lot of fun with (the giraffe theme)," BDS coach Kari Jo Alfs said. "(The giraffe has been at) the first day of two-a-days, the last day of two-a-days."

Alfs brainstormed the motto "It's up to you," a nod to the long neck of a giraffe. She got giraffe key chains for the seniors, and the team even took a summer trip to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo to take a team photo with a giraffe.

Wanting to join the fun, a restaurant in the BDS community even painted an 8-foot giraffe on its building, and for every BDS win, they fill in a spot. BDS has won 29 matches, by the way.

"It's been fun and kind of a good motivator for the girls to see how full we can get that baby," Alfs said.

The giraffe wears a Crossroads Conference Tournament championship medal around its neck. The Eagles hope to change it out for a gold state medal.

Motivation from Kevin: The BDS Eagles have their stuffed toy giraffe residing on their bench and the Millard North Mustangs, well, they have Kevin the Mustang, and while Kevin's origins remain unknown (they think he first emerged back in 2004), he's a mainstay with this Millard North volleyball team.

Whether it's in the halls or in the classroom, Kevin follows his fellow Mustangs wherever they go.

"(Kevin) is actually just a nice way to relieve some stress and pressure sometimes," Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson said. "The girls carry him around the halls, he rides the bus, they take a lot of pictures with him. He's a real talking point around Millard North."

The Mustangs are headed to the Class A state title game on Saturday and there's no way Kevin would miss it.

Bragging rights: Before Wahoo could advance to the state championship, it first had to win the city championship.

The Warriors had to contend with Bishop Neumann in the semifinal, which gave them a tough four sets. It was no wonder, with bragging rights in Wahoo on the line.

“They’re huge crosstown rivals, so anytime we play them, it’s always a battle,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said after Friday’s win.

The two teams don’t play each other in the regular season, so the postseason brings extra excitement to the rivalry.

"We knew that they were going to bring it, and they did tonight,” Wahoo senior Elly Larson said. “They were very scrappy tonight. I give credit to them.”

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