Count Elkhorn South volleyball coach Briana Ritter among those who really wanted to see her team finish off Gretna in straight sets Tuesday night.
And her Storm obliged, posting a 25-15, 25-22, 25-23 sweep over the visiting Dragons.
“Gretna is too good to let hang around,” Ritter said. “I'm pleasantly surprised we were able to win in three, but I was happy to see it.”
Elkhorn South, ranked eighth in Class B, used a strong serve to put away ninth-ranked Gretna for the second time this season. The Storm had 11 aces in the match, including four by junior defensive specialist Jacquelynn Ziola.
“They had way too many aces on us,” Dragons coach Mike Brandon said. “We didn't communicate very well out there.”
Gretna, the Class B state runner-up last year, fell to 11-3. Elkhorn South, which has played several ranked teams this season, moved to 11-6.
The Storm led most of the way in the first set and opened a 22-15 lead after going on a 7-2 run. Elkhorn South won the final three points and the set on a kill by Alli Rogers, a tandem block by Emily Gregan and Sarah Swanson and a kill by Gregan.
The Dragons held the upper hand early in the second set and grabbed an 8-3 lead on a kill by Halie McArdle. The Storm rallied to take an 18-13 lead, only to see Gretna rattle off the next six points to grab a 19-18 advantage.
The set was tied at 19, 20, 21 and 22 before Elkhorn South took the lead for good on a kill by setter Ashley Knight. An ace by Knight and a shot into the net by Gretna's Natalie Mickelson allowed the Storm to escape with a 25-22 win.
It was much the same in the third game as the Storm opened an 18-13 lead before Gretna won the next five points. Elkhorn South then broke the tie by winning the next four points and was on the verge of victory shortly after at 24-19 before the Dragons made one more late run.
Gretna staved off four match points behind the strong serving of McArdle and inched within 24-23 on a McArdle ace. But Elkhorn South's Kelsey Green ended it on the next point with a kill, preventing the Dragons from mounting a comeback.
“I think our team is definitely starting to jell,” Ritter said. “Our girls have recommitted themselves to make this a successful season.”
Rogers led the Storm with 13 kills while Green had eight kills, two aces and four blocks. Booth chipped in seven kills, Gregan had six and setter Ashley Knight had 30 assists.
Mickelson paced the Dragons with 12 kills while McArdle had 11 and Sara Rahmanzal six.
“We need to be more consistent,” Brandon said. “We scored a lot of points in a couple of runs but we just didn't do the little things tonight.”
Elkhorn South returns to action Thursday night at Crete while Gretna will compete Saturday in the Grand Island tournament.
Gretna (11-3) ..................... 18 22 23
At Elkhorn South (11-6) ..... 25 25 25
G (kills-aces-blocks): Hanna Ehmke 0-2-0, Mallory Yost 1-0-0, Natalie Mickelson 12-1-0, Amanda Young 3-1-0, Cameron Scott 0-1-0, Jaisa Russell 1-0-0, Sara Rahmanzal 6-0-0, Halie McArdle 11-2-0.
ES: Kelsey Green 8-2-4, Emily Gregan 6-2-1, Leslie Booth 7-0-0, Kenzi Bay 0-1-0, Jacquelynn Ziola 0-4-0, Ashley Knight 2-2-0, Sarah Swanson 3-0-3, Alli Rogers 13-0-0.
Set assists: G 31 (Scott 20, Ehmke 7, Hannah Brandon 3, Young 1). ES 31 (Knight 30, Bay 1).