Wahoo’s path to a second straight state volleyball title game is marked with déjà vu.
The No. 1 Warriors will face No. 2 Lincoln Lutheran, a team they have played twice and split the series with this season, in Saturday’s Class C-1 championship game at the Devaney Sports Center. But to get there, they had to beat Bishop Neumann for the second time in two weeks.
Wahoo’s 25-18, 25-18, 14-25, 25-22 win over the No. 4 Cavaliers in Friday’s semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena was hardly the same type of match as when the last time the cross-town rivals met in subdistricts.
Wahoo (34-2) swept that contest and looked primed to do the same Friday after taking the first two sets.
Then Bishop Neumann caught fire.
“They’ve (Bishop Neumann) improved,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said. “They played really good defense tonight, they served tough. At times we struggled and played scared a little bit.”
The Cavaliers (30-4) took nine of the last 10 points in the third set to shift the momentum. Then the fourth set was tight the whole way.
“In that fourth set, we knew we had to finish it right there or else that fifth set would have put a lot of pressure on us,” Wahoo’s Elly Larson said. “So as a senior, I knew I had to do everything I can because these are my last games.”
Bishop Neumann led 22-20 in the fourth set and looked ready to take it to a fifth, but the Warriors rattled off five straight points. Elly Larson had the last two kills to seal the win. She had a match-high 16 kills to go along with 24 digs.
“We were struggling to stay in system and started to doubt ourselves a little bit,” Coach Larson said. “Our senior leadership really stepped up and made them believe again, to trust each other, trust their training.”
Wahoo’s senior class consists only of Elly Larson and Kyla Swanson, but the coach said their influence makes the rest of the team better.
“They just love the game so much and they love their teammates,” she said. “These girls want to do well for our seniors."
In a state semifinal that will be the rubber match between Wahoo and Lincoln Lutheran, there are sure to be plenty of fireworks. Wahoo has a number of options to turn to on the attack, including freshman Mya Larson, the team’s kill leader, and Swanson, the 6-4 middle and Illinois recruit.
“We know that with all of these experienced players, we can trust each other,” Elly Larson said.
“We’ve just got to trust our training,” the senior added, echoing her coach’s message.
Kelsie Cada led Bishop Neumann with 14 kills and 27 digs.