Macy Kamler was spiking kills Saturday. She was digging up shots, and celebrating points on the Devaney Sports Center floor. To sweeten the deal, Kamler helped lead her team to state volleyball championship.
The BDS sophomore almost didn't get that chance.
Less than two months ago, Kamler was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, a rare and life-threatening illness that affects one out of every 100,000 females annually.
"(It was) a very, very scary situation coming out here and knowing that I'm in God's hands and I can do it all; so thankful for doctors and medicine (and) it's a great opportunity," an emotional Kamler said Saturday.
It was a school day in September when Kamler went to a meeting before classes started and noticed quarter-size dots on her legs.
"I thought they were spider bites," she said.
Kamler then began having aches in her back and legs, and her mother, who works at the school, told her to go home to rest.
"She never checks on me until lunch, but for some reason she came home and checked on me and said, 'This isn't good. We've got to get you to the doctor,'" Kamler said.
A doctor in Hastings noticed the symptoms immediately, and Kamler was life-flighted to Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Lincoln, where she spent time in the intensive care unit.
"They said if I would have waited another hour to go in I would not have made it," Kamler said.
In communities the sizes of Bruning, Davenport and Shickley, the news hit hard.
"That was the most-challenging practice that I have ever faced," BDS coach Kari Jo Alfs said of the first practice without Kamler. "We started the practice with a prayer, we shed a lot of tears (and) we had no idea if Macy was going to make it."
Kamler was able to return to the team a week later, and on Saturday she was helping lead the charge, finishing with a team-high 21 kills and 15 digs in the Eagles' five-set win against Ewing in the D-2 final.
"Sometimes when you lose somebody like that and some other people step in, they get a little bit frustrated and say, 'She took my spot again?'" Alfs said. "These girls didn't do that. They played as a team, they welcomed Macy back with open arms, they knew that they needed her. If they were to be in the spotlight (Saturday) we had to have Macy back, and the girls didn't flinch or anything when Macy did come back to join us."
Mustangs find new gear: A couple of losses in the middle of the season derailed what Millard North was hoping for in an undefeated season. The nationally ranked Mustangs lost the fight for perfection in late September and, after another loss, they had to take a look in the mirror to decide what kind of team they wanted to be.
The Mustangs finished the season on a 13-match win streak, but it was a win at the Metro Tournament where the eventual state champions realized their potential.
"I feel like at the Metro Tournament something really changed," Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson said. "The seniors on the team just stepped in and said. "Let's go.' As a coach, that's great to see because I don't have to step in and tell them what they're doing wrong, they already know it. I felt like my seniors took over at the backend of Metro."
Skutt seniors leave a legacy: Following Omaha Skutt’s fourth straight state championship on Saturday, it was pointed out that seniors Lily Heyne and Sydney McDermott finished with a perfect 12-0 mark during four years at the Class B state tournament.
After losing five seniors to graduation from the 2017 state title team, both McDermott and Heyne said the leadership on this year’s team didn’t just fall on their shoulders.
“You don’t have to be a senior to be a leader,” Heyne said. “Anyone on the court can lead. It’s how you play, it’s how you react to situations and it’s how you lead the group.”
McDermott piggybacked off Heyne’s thoughts.
“We had a lot of people step up this year to be leaders,” McDermott said. “We really had a lot of leaders on the court and not just us two.”
Heyne and McDermott will pass the torch to the next generation of SkyHawks. And things look to be in good hands with NU recruit Lindsay Krause back for two more seasons.
“Playing with her (Krause) has been one the greatest experiences ever,” Heyne said. “Lindsay brings a different fire to the court.”
Family bragging rights: The Larson family at Wahoo has had a lot of success recently, and Saturday's championship allowed freshman Mya to get in on it.
Mya became the third Larson sister to win a state championship with her mom, Trish, as a head coach, but it's her sister, Elly, who claimed her second title and bragging rights in the Larson household.
"I'm winning right now," Elly said over her state title total.
She's currently the leader in the clubhouse but Mya has three more seasons to match or supplant her sister so how many titles are coming in the future?
"As many as we can," Mya said.
Blue Hill’s "fearless" jump to C-2: After falling to Meridian in the semifinals of the Class D-1 state tournament in 2017, few people gave Blue Hill a fighting chance of capturing a state title in 2018. Especially once it was learned the Bobcats would be moving up a class to compete in Class C-2 — a class that included defending state champion Superior and NU recruit Kalynn Meyer.
“We did have a lot of naysayers,” Bobcats coach Kristi Allen said. “A lot of people came up and said, 'It’s just too bad you had to move back (to C-2) this year, you probably could’ve won D-1.' That’s where we came up with our theme being 'fearless.' We didn’t care what class we were in, we were going to play some good volleyball.”
A "second mom": Allison Dieckmann, senior setter for Class D-1 champion Archbishop Bergan, said she has two mothers on the team. Her real mom, Kim, is an assistant coach for the Knights, and she said Sue Wewel, the head coach, holds a special place in her heart, too.
“She loves us on and off the court. She’s like all of our second mom,” Allison said. “She works us hard in practice and she knows what she’s doing. She knew what she had to do to get us to this point.”
“Winning a state championship is special, but when you get to do it with your mom, it makes it that much more special,” Allison added.
Sportsmanship award winners: Lincoln Pius X (Class A), Omaha Duchesne (B), Lincoln Lutheran (C-1), Superior (C-2), Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family (D-1), Ewing (D-2).