Thursday was a banner day for the Lincoln Pius X Thunderbolts, and the city of Lincoln itself, for a couple of reasons.
The Thunderbolts snapped a streak of two straight opening-round losses at the state tournament and also became the first Lincoln team in four years to advance to the semifinals of the Class A bracket.
"It's so awesome (to get to the semifinals)," Pius X junior Lauren Taubenheim said. "We've been working so hard all season and it's been our goal to get past the first round, and we did that so now we're ready to keep it going."
The Thunderbolts have a few other streaks to snap if everything goes according to plan. A Lincoln team hasn't advanced to the Class A state championship match since 2001, and it's been 20 years since Lincoln claimed the title in the top class in Nebraska.
'Chop Wood, Carry Water': Fans who follow the Waverly Vikings volleyball team on Twitter may have noticed the hashtag #CWCW throughout the year.
The meaning behind the hashtag goes back to a summer reading assignment given by Waverly coach Terri Neujahr to her team.
Neujahr assigned to her team, Joshua Medcalf’s book, "Chop Wood, Carry Water" prior to the season.
The moral of the story?
Overcoming adversity. Doing the little things first before moving on to bigger things in order to reach your goals. The main character in the book (John) encounters numerous obstacles, such as injuries, losing hope and motivation, along his journey to become a samurai warrior.
“It’s the little things that matter,” sophomore outside hitter Whitney Lauenstein said. “You have to do the little things, before the big things. If you do, it obviously pays off.”
Senior defensive specialist Kennedy VanScoy echoed Lauenstein’s sentiments.
“It’s actually a really good book,” VanScoy said. “It taught me in order to reach the big goal, you have to do the little things right first and never give up.”
Old EMC rivals to meet in semifinals: Former Eastern Midlands Conference rivals Waverly and Elkhorn South didn’t face each other this season.
With the Storm now members of the Metro Conference, the two teams didn’t cross paths. However, that will change on Friday as both teams advanced to the Class B semifinals with 3-0 sweeps in the opening round.
“They’ve (Waverly) got me nervous,” Storm coach Briana Janda said. “They are well-coached and solid all the way around. It will take our best to win.”
We meet again: Friday’s Class B 7 p.m. semifinal will pit familiar foes Omaha Skutt and Omaha Duchesne.
The Rivers Cities Conference rivals will meet for the fourth consecutive year at the state tournament, with Skutt prevailing in all three previous meetings. Last year’s meeting came in the championship match.
“A dogfight,” Skutt coach Renee Saunders said when asked what she expects on Friday. “It’s going to be a game of inches. Whoever executes the best and lives in the moment will win.”
Duchesne coach Andrew Wehrli said his team is looking forward to the challenge.
“They’ve ended our season three years in a row, and last season in the finals obviously, Wehrli said. “I’m just looking forward to showing people what we can do. We’re going to be the best we can be.”
SkyHawks sophomore outside hitter, and Husker recruit Lindsay Krause is also looking forward to Friday night.
“We always have fun playing them,” Krause said. “If we play well, I think it will go well for us.”
Meyer sisters take on state: When the public address announcer at Lincoln Southwest said, “Double block by the Meyer sisters!” in the fourth set of Superior’s opening-round win over Freeman Thursday, pure elation took over Kalynn and Shayla Meyer’s faces.
“We are best friends … I guess,” Nebraska commit Kalynn said as she was laughing and looking at her sister.
Even though it was all smiles after the match, Mustang head coach Kelsea Blevins was the first to point out the competitive nature of the sisters.
“They really challenge each other and are partners often,” Blevins said. “They for sure aren’t afraid to say ‘that wasn’t good enough’ to one another.”
Getting pushed all season long by her Division I bound sister may have just paid off for Shayla on Thursday.
Unlike most freshmen walking onto the scene in the state tournament, the setter said she didn’t feel nervous at all in the atmosphere.
“It didn’t really get to me,” Shayla said. “I think I was just ready for it overall.”
As the Meyer sisters make their mark on Superior history, it’s easy to forget there is more to come.
Superior will play in Friday’s C-2 semifinals, looking for another state championship.
Oh, one more thing.
The siblings also have all of next year to dominate the net.
“It’s really good to just have two awesome people in the front row,” Kalynn said. “We also get along so well. Well, sometimes.”
Don't overthink it: Diller-Odell’s blocking was on point early in Thursday’s D-1 quarterfinal game against Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, and Bulldog senior Taya Beller couldn’t quite get her attack going.
Bulldogs coach Cami Oelsligle had simple advice for her 6-foot-2 senior.
“I kind of emphasized to her to just hit the ball. You’re better than them, so show them,” the coach said.
Beller did hit the ball after that. She hit it for a match-high 24 kills, to be exact. Those 24 kills, including the final two of the match, helped her team win a five-set battle and advance to the semifinals.
“I think that really flipped a switch in her and gave her the confidence to go out and show people that kind of player that she is,” Oelsigle said.