GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Papillion-La Vista South completed its season-long mission Saturday, capturing its third consecutive volleyball crown.
The Titans (41-1) rolled past Omaha Marian 25-14, 25-16, 25-15 in the Class A final of the state tournament held at the Heartland Events Center. The victory capped a glittering three-year run in which Papio South went 119-1, its lone loss coming in September against national power Louisville (Ky.) Assumption.
It also spelled the end of the varsity volleyball careers for three players who have been instrumental in those championships. Kelly Hunter and twin sisters Kadie and Amber Rolfzen will move on to play next season for coach John Cook at Nebraska.
“I think this third title is the most exciting,” Hunter said. “It’s something we’ve been working for all season.”
It was the fifth time that the top-ranked Titans have played the second-ranked Crusaders. Marian finishes the season 38-5, with all five setbacks coming against Papio South.
“The chase has been fun against them,” Crusaders coach Rochelle Rohlfs said. “But they’re going to have to fight for their wins next year, like the rest of us.”
The Titans came out strong in the first set, perhaps in part to some scolding they received the previous day from coach Gwen Egbert. She called her team’s performance “sluggish” in a semifinal win over Millard West.
Papio South was anything but that against Marian, racing to a 9-1 lead in the opening set.
“We played really well as a team,” Egbert said. “We got off to a good start and continued playing hard through all three sets.”
The Crusaders regrouped to close within 14-8 on a kill by Maggie Heim, but the Titans won the next four points to regain command. Papio South held a clear lead to the end of the first set and closed it out when Heim netted a shot.
Marian trailed just 17-14 in the second set when the Titans once again put the hammer down. They won the next four points to pull away, and eventually won the set on an ace by Adyson Goodnight.
With a third straight title in its reach, Papio South went back to work in the third set. Marian led for the last time at 3-2, but it was all Titans after that.
Kadie Rolfzen had seven kills in the final set, one which she knew could also be her final one at Papio South.
“I was counting it down in my head,” she said. “Seven points left in high school, six points left in high school ...”
Rolfzen’s countdown grew closer to zero as Papio South methodically pulled away. The Titans finished off the match when Hunter found an open spot deep in the Marian defense, and the ball dropped down for the final point.
“It feels great to end my career here on such a good note,” Hunter said. “It’s kind of sad and bittersweet that I just played my last match for Papio South. I’ve had such great memories here.”
Kadie Rolfzen led the way with 17 kills while her sister Amber added nine. Senior Katie Kurtz added six kills and three blocks while Hunter had 32 assists.
Lexi Elman led the Crusaders with 13 kills and Annie Wolfe had five.
“Our team played with a lot of confidence today,” Egbert said. “And we were rewarded for it.”
Om. Marian (38-5) ................................ 14 16 15
Papillion-La Vista South (41-1) .................. 25 25 25
OM (kills-aces-blocks): Sydney O'Shaughnessy 3-0-1, Anna Krettek 0-0-1, Lexi Elman 13-1-0, Annie Wolfe 5-1-2, Maggie Heim 3-0-3.
PLVS: Olivia Schonewise 2-0-1, Kelly Hunter 2-1-1, Amber Rolfzen 9-1-0, Kadie Rolfzen 17-1-1, Katie Kurtz 6-0-3, Erin Warren 0-2-1, Raegan Legrand 0-1-0, Adyson Goodnight 2-2-2.
Set assists: OM 21 (Heim 11, O'Shaughnessy 8, Wolfe 2); PLVS 32 (Hunter 32).
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