WAVERLY, Neb. — Waverly captured the competitive Eastern Midlands Conference volleyball tournament Thursday night, and the Vikings did it in style.
Waverly rallied from a late four-point deficit in the third set to post a 25-20, 25-22, 25-23 sweep over Norris. The Vikings (23-3) have now won 15 straight.
“I was really hopeful we were going to get that done in three,” Waverly coach Terri Neujahr said. “We did not want to let them back in this match.”
The EMC is the most competitive volleyball conference in Class B, with five ranked teams in The World-Herald’s Top 10. Third-ranked Waverly defeated unranked Blair on Monday and eighth-ranked Elkhorn South on Tuesday before taking out the fifth-ranked Titans for the title.
Leading the way was Nebraska recruit Olivia Boender, who had a match-high 22 kills. But it was her serving that helped the Vikings rally from a 20-16 deficit in the third set.
“I knew I had to keep every serve in,” she said. “We couldn’t give them any free points.”
Waverly had taken the first set after holding a slim lead most of the way. Boender, a 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter, pounded the final kill to give the Vikings a 1-0 edge in the match.
The Titans, who defeated Waverly on Sept. 14 in the Norris Invitational, saw an early lead in the second set melt away. The Vikings took the lead for good at 15-14 on a kill by Boender, and then won the set on another Boender kill.
Norris appeared poised to extend the match in the third set, taking a 20-16 lead on a kill by junior Kylie Hohlen. But a timeout by Neujahr helped stifle the Titans’ momentum, and Waverly won the next point on a kill by Boender’s sister Brianna.
That sent Olivia Boender to the service line, and she served the next four points to put the Vikings on top. A Norris hitting error, a Boender ace, a kill by Brianna Boender and a kill by Dani Root gave the Vikings a 21-20 lead.
Norris tied the match at 21 when a shot by Root went wide, and the Titans won the next two points on a block by Andrea Jameson and an ace by Marisa Moseman to take a 23-21 edge.
The Vikings then proceeded to win the next four points to close out the match. A kill by Root, an ace by Ashley Neujahr, a combination block by Brianna Boender and Emily Helzer and another kill by Root ended it.
“We got caught on our heels on defense a little too much,” Norris coach Christina Boesiger said. “And we couldn’t finish when we needed to.”
Olivia Boender said it felt good to win the tournament — something Waverly hadn’t accomplished since 2008.
“It was one of our goals this season,” she said. “It feels amazing to get this win.”
Root, a West Virginia recruit, finished with 10 kills while Brianna Boender had eight kills and four blocks. Brianna Boender also had 21 assists while Mackenzie Hyde had 18.
Kasey Hohlen had 10 kills to pace the Titans (17-6) while her sister Kylie had eight.
Norris ............................ 20 22 23
Waverly ............................ 25 25 25
N (kills-aces-blocks): Marisa Moseman 2-2-0, Kylie Hohlen 8-2-0, Jordyn Clauss 5-1-1, Payton Ruhl 5-2-0, Andrea Jameson 3-0-1, Kasey Hohlen 10-2-2, Emma Lee 0-1-0.
W: Mackenzie Hyde 2-1-0, Emily Helzer 1-0-2, Dani Root 10-0-0, Ashley Neujahr 1-1-0, Brianna Boender 8-0-4, Olivia Boender 22-1-0.
Set assists: N 25 (Moseman 22, Ruhl 3), W 41 (B. Boender 21, Hyde 18, O. Boender 2).