LINCOLN — As many expected, second-ranked Omaha Marian captured the Lincoln Public Schools Classic volleyball tournament Saturday at Lincoln Southeast.
More surprising was the battle runner-up Lincoln Southeast gave the Crusaders in the championship.
Marian appeared to have the match well in hand by winning the first set 25-18. But the host Knights fought back to win the second set 25-18 and then had one match point in the third set before falling 27-25.
“That was interesting,” Crusaders coach Rochelle Rohlfs said. “I don’t know what happened in that third set, but we finally got it straightened out.”
After splitting the first two sets, Marian raced to a 15-7 advantage in the third. But Southeast, which has never won a state volleyball championship, won the next 10 points — a rarity for any team against a perennial power such as the Crusaders — to take a 17-15 lead.
“We’ve been playing around with our leadership,” Rohlfs said. “And if those players check out, that shows how quickly it can crumble.”
That 10-point run was fueled by sophomore Tyra Douglas and senior Kinslie TeKolste. Douglas served three aces and TeKolste added three of her team-high 16 kills.
Marian finally broke that streak when Douglas served long, and the Crusaders recaptured the lead on a block by Sydney O’Shaughnessy and a kill by Annie Wolfe.
The match remained close until Marian received kills from Wolfe and Lexi Elman to grab a 24-21 advantage. But Southeast won the next four points to take a 25-24 lead and had an opportunity to close out the match, but Elman had other ideas.
Her kill tied it at 25, and the Crusaders won the next two points on a Southeast net violation and a kill by Maggie Heim to end it.
“I guess we just wanted to make it exciting,” Elman said. “We try not to let a team get runs of more than three points, so I’m guessing that’s something we’re going to focus on in practice Monday.”
Elman, who led Marian with 16 kills, had eight in the decisive third set. Wolfe and Heim had three apiece.
“We knew we needed to stay confident,” Elman said. “We’re a very encouraging team.”
Southeast coach Annie Rice said she was proud of her team’s performance.
“The girls are competing and working together,” she said. “But we have to learn to not put ourself in holes like that.”
Marian led most of the way in the first set and finished it off on a kill by Elman. But the Knights sprinted to an 8-1 lead in the second set and were never really threatened, winning 25-18.
That set up the third set, which eventually went to the battle-tested — 26 state tournament appearances — Crusaders.
“I told our team that we grew mentally,” Rolhlfs said. “I think we learned an important lesson here today.”
Omaha Marian.........................25 18 27
Lincoln Southeast....................18 25 25
OM (kills-aces-blocks): Sydney O'Shaughnessy 3-3-1, Morgan Sullivan 5-1-0, Anna Krettek 0-0-1, Lexi Elman 16-1-0, Annie Wolfe 6-0-1, Maggie Heim 9-0-1.
LSE: Kylee Wurster 0-1-0, Brooke Lattimer 1-0-3, Taylor Lewis 12-0-0, Sydney Taylor 5-0-0, Kinslie TeKolste 16-0-2, Tyra Douglas 2-6-2.
Set assists: OM 33 (O'Shaughnessy 16, Heim 16, Brittany Witt 1), LSE 33 (Wurster 31, Dani Kostal 2).
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