With the state volleyball tournament just ahead, it’s time to go out on a limb and see if we can predict which teams will come home with the hardware.
The crystal ball has been hit and miss over the years, so please don’t take these “for entertainment purposes only” selections too seriously. Strange things can happen at state, but that’s what makes it interesting.
Top-ranked Papillion-La Vista South will be the heavy favorite, and for good reason. The Titans are the two-time defending champions and it’s difficult to imagine anything else happening except a third straight crown for one of the top teams in the nation.
First round: Papio South over Papillion-La Vista; Lincoln Southwest over Millard West; Lincoln Southeast over Lincoln Pius X; Omaha Marian over Millard North.
Semifinals: Papio South over Lincoln Southwest; Marian over Lincoln Southeast.
Final: Papio South over Marian.
Sleeper: Lincoln Pius X.
There’s more parity in this class, so the confidence level isn’t quite as high. While Omaha Gross looms as a dangerous team, the pick is Grand Island Northwest — the school that has finished as runner-up the past five years — to take down the title in front of its boisterous hometown fans.
First round: Waverly over Elkhorn South; Grand Island Northwest over York; Norris over Sidney; Omaha Gross over Gretna.
Semifinals: Grand Island NW over Waverly; Gross over Norris.
Final: Grand Island NW over Gross.
While C-1 is always one of the most competitive classes top to bottom, the obvious selection this year has to be Kearney Catholic. The Stars are 33-0 and steaming toward their first state championship, though defending champ Columbus Scotus always looms as a danger.
First round: Columbus Scotus over Grand Island Central Catholic; Ogallala over Chadron; Norfolk Catholic over Lincoln Christian; Kearney Catholic over Lincoln Lutheran.
Semifinals: Scotus over Ogallala; Kearney Catholic over Norfolk Catholic.
Final: Kearney Catholic over Scotus.
Sleeper: Lincoln Christian.
Now it starts getting tougher, and a strong case can be made for just about any one of these teams. We’ll go with second seed Hastings St. Cecilia and longtime coach Alan VanCura to secure the school’s sixth title and first since 1990.
First round: North Platte St. Pat’s over Hershey; Norfolk Lutheran over Freeman; Hastings St. Cecilia over Thayer Central; Hartington Cedar Catholic over Wood River.
Semifinals: Norfolk Lutheran over St. Pat’s; St. Cecilia over Cedar Catholic.
Final: St. Cecilia over Norfolk Lutheran.
Sleeper: Wood River.
West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic enters as the top seed, and the Bluejays will be tough. But a slight edge here goes to third seed Howells-Dodge, which captured a five-set subdistrict final against the Bluejays.
First round: Howells-Dodge over Exeter-Milligan; Sutherland over Alma; O’Neill St. Mary’s over Ansley-Litchfield; West Point GACC over Silver Lake.
Semifinals: Howells-Dodge over Sutherland; West Point GACC over St. Mary’s.
Final: Howells-Dodge over West Point GACC.
This class comes down to two teams — Humphrey and Giltner — that could meet in the semifinals. The Hornets are tough, but we’ll go with defending D-1 champ Humphrey to make it two titles in two state tourney trips.
First round: Mead over Brady; Cedar Valley over Leyton; Giltner over Stuart; Humphrey over Mullen.
Semifinals: Mead over Cedar Valley; Humphrey over Giltner.
Final: Humphrey over Mead.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1350, email@example.com, twitter.com/MPattersonOWH