GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The Grand Island Northwest volleyball team faced some adversity Thursday for the first time since the second week of the season.
The No. 1 Vikings suffered their first set loss since Sept. 8. But Northwest responded and advanced to the semifinals of the Class B state volleyball tournament with a 25-10, 24-26, 25-10, 25-12 win over York at Grand Island Senior High.
Vikings coach Diane Rouzee said the set loss might have been a good thing.
“I think it was a good wake-up call,” Rouzee said. “We've been rolling along through the season and probably won some games we probably shouldn't have won. But I have to give York credit because they played very well in that second set.”
The state tournament was York's first since 1989 and it showed in the first set as the Dukes committed seven hitting errors. Northwest built leads of 10-4 and 20-8 before pulling away.
The second set was a much different story. Three Northwest errors, a Steph Stevens kill and two ace serves by Aleah Rosenau gave the Dukes a 15-9 lead.
But Northwest battled back thanks to Katie Placke, who had eight of a team-high 13 kills in the set. Her final one brought the Vikings back to 22-21.
Later, two Morgan Westphal kills gave Northwest a 24-23 lead. But a service error gave the Dukes the ball back and they won the set on a Erin Malleck ace serve and a Erica Koehler kill.
Rouzee said a lot of things happened for the Vikings to lose that second set.
“York didn't have as many hitting errors and serving errors in that second set, but we returned the favor,” Rouzee said. “The kids know we allowed that to happen. York allowed that to happen, however, by playing better. Our serve receive broke down more than it should have.”
Northwest slowly started to pull away in the third when Neleigh Hall and Angelica Carlini combined to serve an 11-1 run with two ace serves to help the Vikings cruise.
In the fourth set, Placke gave Northwest some breathing room with a 9-0 run for a 23-11 lead, which ended on an ace serve, and Northwest didn't look back. A McKenzie Brown ace serve ended the match.
Westphal and McKenzie Brown each added nine kills for Northwest. Koehler led the Dukes with nine kills, while Rosenau added eight.
The win sets up a matchup with No. 5 Waverly at 2 p.m. Friday at the Heartland Events Center. Waverly defeated No. 3 Elkhorn South 27-25, 25-20, 27-25. Olivia Boender led the way with 22 kills.
Rouzee said she expects a battle with Waverly Friday.
“Hopefully we've improved more than they have,” Rouzee said. “We have to serve receive better and that broke down for us a little bit today. I think if we can pass their serve and dig a few of their balls, we'll see what happens.”
York (15-15)....................................10 26 10 12
Northwest (33-2)...............................25 24 25 25
Y (Kills-aces-blocks): Liz Harlow 0-0-0, Olivia Stubbs 0-0-3, Aleah Rosenau 8-2-1, Dacia Stuhr 0-0-2, Erica Koehler 9-1-1, Erin Malleck 4-2-0, Sarah Stephens 4-0-1.
NW: Erin Sorahan 6—0-2, Katie Placke 13-1-1, Morgan Mallory 0-0-0, Kaley Werner 5-1-2, Morgan Westphal 9-0-1, Angelica Carlini 1-3-0, Neleigh Hall 1-0-0, Nicole Broich 0-0-0, McKenzie Brown 9-1-0, Kennadi Keezer 4-0-1.
Set assists: Y Stubbs 22, Koehler 2, Stephens 1, Harlow 1. NW Hall 22, Placke 20, Westphal 1, Broich 1.