A hip injury plagued Lincoln Lutheran’s Marriah Buss throughout the 2018 season, and oftentimes, it left the junior on the edge of exhaustion as the Warriors battled late into matches.
It was an injury that would’ve sidelined most, but when it came down to it, Buss wasn’t going to miss a moment of this season or any chance to play with her Lutheran team.
“There were some times where I could really feel (the hip injury), but I just wanted to put it out of my mind because what was happening on the court was more important than anything I was feeling,” Buss said.
“I just wanted to go out there and play for everyone on this team. My doctor said it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re going to have surgery anyway, if you can put up with the pain, then go for it. So I just thought about that and what this season means to the seniors any time I wanted to quit. I wanted to do whatever I could to help them.”
What Buss did to help them placed her all over the Nebraska statistical leaderboards this season, including a first-place finish with 637 kills and a second-place mark in hitting percentage at .437. The stats guided the Warriors to their first Class C-1 championship match in 13 seasons — they lost to Wahoo 3-2 in the final — and ultimately, landed her the first-team Super State captaincy from the Journal Star when the season was all said and done.
Despite the impressive numbers and Super State honors, it’s hard to get Buss to expound on her season without discussing what this team meant to her.
“This is so special because we all worked so hard this season,” she said. “Having a lot of the core players coming back from last season after finishing third, we knew we were going to have to put in extra work during the offseason and push it to a different level. It says a lot about our team to get as far as we did. Obviously, I can’t hit unless Hope (Leimbach) or Erin (Williams) or anyone else is getting me the ball. It just shows the work ethic of our team because I couldn’t even touch the ball without them."
You have free articles remaining.
It’s clear when talking to Buss and Lutheran head coach Sue Ziegler this season was a special one for the program. But while both are quick to comment on the family-like nature of the team, Ziegler has plenty of praise for her Super-State captain.
“It’s something that other teams dread going up against. They will try to key in on (Buss) or triple block her so we have to have other options around her but it sure is nice to have a player that is significant enough that other teams know they have to focus in and try to challenge her,” Ziegler said. “Marriah is that player. She’s put in a lot of hard work and dedication on the court for us and our success shows that.”
Now, already looking ahead to next season after a second-place finish this season and postseason honors in hand, Buss remains confident despite losing her two running mates, Leimbach and Williams, before the 2019 season.
“Next season we feel like we can make it back (to the championship) and possibly win it, but we know it’s going to take everyone stepping up into new roles,” she said. “We know we’re going to have to go out fearless and have the mentality that we can be beat but we’re not going to be. We’ll have grit and we’re going to work the hardest of any team.”
Buss committed to Wichita State this spring but will play one last season at Lutheran next year before her future as a Shocker.
Lincoln Lutheran, 6-0, jr., OH
College: Wichita State.
Reaching for the stars: The junior racked up a staggering 637 kills to lead the state while also finishing second in hitting percentage at .437. Buss also put up increased numbers in digs, aces and blocks while leading Lutheran to the state runner-up finish. Her career kill total now sits at 1,748 so if she continues producing as she has, she’ll in line to reach 2,000 career kills.
Coach’s view: "It’s something that other teams dread going up against. They will try to key in on (Buss) or triple block her so we have to have other options other options around her but it sure is nice to have a player that is significant enough that other teams know they have to focus in and try to challenge her. Marriah is that player. She’s put in a lot of hard work and dedication on the court for us and our success shows that.” — Lincoln Lutheran coach Sue Ziegler.
Johnson-Brock, 6-2, sr., MB
Reaching for the stars: The future Husker recorded 475 kills in her final season, slightly below her average over the past two years, but Stutheit still found a way to succeed with defenses focusing on her. She finished third in the state with a .415 hitting percentage while her defense remained intimidating at the net. Johnson-Brock fell short of its fourth straight title, but Stutheit’s three titles and Super-State appearances make her a lasting figure in the Eagles’ history book.
Coach’s view: "Fallon is really easy to coach. She has a passion for volleyball and has so much natural ability. She’s grown into a strong leader and worked hard to guide the underclassmen this year. Her competitive nature and determination were truly the driving force behind many of our wins. I think she’s left a nice legacy as an Eagle both on and off the court." — Johnson-Brock coach Tera Stutheit.
Superior, 6-3, jr., MH
Reaching for the stars: Meyer finished just outside the top five kills leaders in the state this season with 524, and her digs and service ace numbers were both up from a dominant sophomore season. Her impact on the court guided the Wildcats back to the state tournament, where she recorded 57 kills over three matches. Meyer’s athletic prowess goes well beyond the volleyball court — she was the Journal Star’s female athlete of the year last season — but volleyball is clearly her future.
Coach’s view: "Kalynn is an amazing kid and a joy to coach. She’s smart, kind and extremely gifted when it comes to sports. She works very hard in the weight room. She has worked hard to develop, not only her front-row play, but back-row defense and passing as well. Kalynn brings intensity and leadership to our team, and yet stays humble and has fun through all the pressure." — Superior coach Kelsea Blevins.
Omaha Marian, 5-11, sr., OH
Reaching for the stars: Bressman may have saved her best season for last. She recorded 435 kills, her highest total in high school, while adding 420 digs, her highest season total by nearly 100. Bressman also broke the Marian career kills record, which is no small feat, with 1,412 kills over her four seasons. The Crusaders lost several players to Division I schools after their state title last season, but Bressman guided a fresh-faced Marian squad to the semifinals before losing in a five-set thriller to Lincoln Pius X.
Coach’s view: "Emily is a competitive leader. She has had a tremendous impact on Marian volleyball and each season has strived to improve on different aspects of her game. She is self-motivated and always looking for ways to win, whether it is in practice or during a match.” — Omaha Marian coach Amy McLeay.
Omaha Skutt, 6-3, so, OH
Reaching for the stars: Krause missed several games at the start of the season due to U-18 Youth National Team duties, but once she returned to high school competition, there was no stopping her. She played in only 77 sets, yet recorded 260 kills to help push the SkyHawks to their fourth straight Class B state title. Her block numbers were up from last season despite playing 34 fewer sets.
Coach’s view: "Lindsay brings a new dimension to our team. She has the ability to take over matches with her attack and block, but also plays within our system. This season she learned that she does not have to do everything perfectly or on her own. She learned to play hard at all times and not worry about making mistakes, and to let the game come to her. She is also a very competitive person who holds her teammates accountable in practice and in games. She is respected by everyone on the team even though she is only a sophomore. She is a team player who has a desire to succeed." — Omaha Skutt coach Renee Saunders.
Millard North, 6-1, jr., OH
Reaching for the stars: Ruch helped bring Millard North its second title in three years behind 362 kills and 75 total blocks. On a Mustang team loaded with talent, Ruch found a way to stand out as a versatile player. She recorded 363 digs this season, nearly 300 more than her sophomore or freshman season totals. She’s now just 15 away from 1,000 career kills, and she’ll be the key factor in the Mustangs' quest for back-to-back titles next season.
Coach's view: “McKenna played a major role in our state championship run this year. We used her as a full six-rotation player, which allowed us to use her as an offensive weapon in the front and back row. Night after night McKenna led the teams in kills. She had the second-highest digs on the team as well and is one of the best full six-rotation players in the state. One thing that stands out about McKenna is her volleyball IQ. She is extremely smart and sees the court very well.” — Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson.
Millard North, 5-10, jr., S
College: Arkansas State.
Reaching for the stars: The Mustangs couldn’t have found a better setter to lead their high-powered offense than Lukens. She finished with 1,103 assists, which placed her fifth in the state. She also broke the 100-kill mark as a setter with 123 and added 44 ace serves and 41 total blocks to her resume, all coming as season highs. Lukens has recorded a staggering 3,342 assists during her Mustang career and she, alongside Ruch, will be back next season.
Coach's view: "Izzy has been running a 5-1 for us since she was a freshman. As a freshman we knew she was going to be special. Her court awareness is incredible. She sees the other side (of the) court, not just the blockers, but the entire court. She isn't just a setter, she is an offensive threat. Many nights Izzy's stats showed her hitting percentage was extremely high. Because she reads the court so well, she strategically places the ball on the other side of the court aggressively. She has some of the best hands and ball placement I have seen." — Millard North coach Lindsay Peterson.