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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."

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.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or scarlson@journalstar.com.

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