GRAND ISLAND — Omaha Marian is one win away from making its second consecutive appearance in the Class A state tournament final as the Crusaders beat Lincoln Southwest 25-20, 25-23, 17-25, 25-14 Thursday in first-round play at the Heartland Events Center.
With the exception of a third-set loss, No. 6 Marian (31-11) dominated the match, finishing with a 61-45 advantage in kills. The Crusaders opened the fourth set by surging to an 11-3 lead.
“We took a one-set break, but other than that, we played pretty solid volleyball,” Marian coach Rochelle Rohlfs said. “Southwest is a good enough team that if you give them momentum going into the end of the match, the first two sets don’t matter anymore, so it was big for us to get off to the fast start in set four.
“Also, for the kids to play so poorly in set three and be able to recover so quickly was big. It’s not about the team that plays perfect, it’s about the team that can avoid having big valleys here at state.”
Elizabeth Marie Loschen (18), Hannah Mueller (15), Kelsey O’Connell (11) and Anna Krettek (10) all finished with double figures in kills to lead the Crusaders, while Brittany Witt had 29 digs. But Rohlfs said good passing and the play of setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy, who had 51 assists and seven kills, spurred Marian’s hitting attack.
“We passed really well,” Rohlfs said. “And then the second thing was our senior setter did her job today. She distributed the ball and kept the block off-balance. ... (O’Shaughnessy) really showed up today.”
After losing its first two matches against Marian this season, Southwest (25-9) had won the previous meeting 3-1 at the Omaha Westside Invitational on Oct. 19. In that match, coach Mary Schropfer said the Silver Hawks served better and the Crusaders didn’t pass as well.
“I really couldn’t find a weak passer today,” Schropfer said of Marian. “And when they started running (their offense) quick, we didn’t close our block all the time. You have to stop that at the net. You can’t dig something that comes that fast at you unless you’re just right there.”
Marysa Wilkinson had 19 kills, Allie Davis had 11 kills and Jillianne Bax finished with 34 digs for Southwest. Madison Egger added 32 assists for the Silver Hawks.
Omaha Marian (31-11) ..........................25 25 17 25
Lincoln Southwest (25-9)......................20 23 25 14
OM (kills-aces-blocks): Andrea Hanus 0-0-0, Brittany Witt 0-2-0, Sydney O'Shaughnessy 7-1-1, Lauren Gamm 3-0-0, Sophia Terwilleger 1-0-0, Anna Krettek 10-2-1, Hannah Mueller 15-0-0, Kenzie Schumacher 0-0-0, Maren McGuire 0-0-0, Morgan Lubeck 0-1-0, Elizabeth Marie Loschen 18-2-0, Kelsey O'Connell 11-0-0. Totals 65-2-8.
LS (kills-aces-blocks): Taylor Els 0-0-0, Sydney Anderson 0-0-0, Callie Myer 3-0-3, Keeley Kroeker 0-0-0, Aftyn Johnson 0-0-0, Madison Kelle 0-0-0, Madison Egger 2-1-2, Marysa Wilkinson 19-2-2, Jillianne Bax 0-0-0, Alyssa Meyer 1S-0-0, Kalen Fern 5-0-3, Allie Davis 11-0-1. Totals 41-3-11.
Set assists: OM 54 (O'Shaughnessy 51, Hanus 1, Witt 1, Krettek 1); LS 38 (Egger 32, Bax 5, Els 1).