GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — After a much different state-tournament experience the second time around, Humphrey is hopeful the end result is the same.
One year after winning the Class D-1 state tournament title as a first-time qualifier, the Bulldogs are on the brink of a championship once again — this time in Class D-2. No. 1-rated Humphrey advanced to the D-2 title match with a 25-17, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20 victory over No. 2 Giltner in Friday's state semifinal at Grand Island Senior High School.
Humphrey coach Gary Bender said this year's state tournament has been a stark contrast to last season when the Bulldogs were first-timers.
“All last week, they kind of expected to be here,” Bender said of reaching the D-2 championship. “Last year, we really didn't know for sure. This year, I think we knew that we had a good shot at being in the finals and they worked so hard all year from Day One that it has been fun.
“They have been focused all year.”
Humphrey (32-2) advanced to play No. 4-rated Cedar Valley (26-6) in Saturday's 9 a.m. championship match. No. 2 Giltner (29-3) will face No. 3 Mead (27-5) in the third-place match at 2 p.m. Saturday at Grand Island Northwest.
Alyssa Frauendorfer powered the Bulldogs, recording eight blocks, 20 digs and a match-high 25 kills.
“She is something,” Bender said of the 6-foot Frauendorfer. “But in volleyball, you've got to have more than one. You've got to have the passes to setters and everything else. Alyssa is great, but I think we have some pretty good girls going with her as a team.”
Giltner's attack was balanced with 16 kills from Dani Most, 14 from Abigayle Preissler and 11 from Jordan Bieck. Shayne Vaught finished with 42 assists and Most had 14 digs for the Hornets.
“We knew we were going to be in for a battle, but like I told the girls, I'm very proud of the way they played,” Giltner coach Kurt Polk said. “Humphrey may have had just a few more athletes for us here or there.
“Being down 2-0 to a team like that, a lot of teams may have cashed it in, but they came out fighting. I thought they played very well in the fourth. They played all the way right up to the end. I really can't ask for much more than that.”
Bender said he knew the Hornets wouldn't quit.
“Giltner really competed hard,” Bender said. “I thought our girls did a good job of controlling their emotions a little bit and staying with what was needed.”
Giltner (29-3)..................................17 16 25 20
Humphrey (32-2)..............................25 25 21 25
G (kills-aces-blocks): Darby Hinrichs 5-0-0, Sarah Most 0-0-0, Abigayle Preissler 14-1-7, Jordan Bieck 11-0-1, Jaclyn Happold 0-1-0, Shayne Vaught 1-0-2, Dani Most 16-1-1, Sarah Williams 2-0-2. Totals 49-3-13.
H: Tarrin Beller 5-0-0, Alyssa Frauendorfer 25-1-8, Haley Roelle 2-1-0, Brenna Bender 4-1-2, Ellie Geyer 4-2-1, Kellie Klassen 3-0-1, Scarlett Prorok 0-0-0. Totals 43-5-12.
Set assists: G 42 (Vaught 42); H 36 (Geyer 32, Beller 2, Frauendorfer 1, Roelle 1).