HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL RATINGS
Two milestone wins highlighted the opening week of the volleyball season.
Sharon Zavala picked up career victory No. 900 on Saturday when Grand Island Central Catholic defeated the host Whippets in the final of the Minden Invitational. 1\vo days earlier, Hastings St. Cecilia coach Alan VanCura scored career win No. 800 in the season opener against Lincoln Christian.
VanCura capped the big weekend Saturday in Columbus by attending the wedding of his 28-year-old son Scott to the former Holly Fritz.
Zavala, in her 40th season at Class C-l Central Catholic, is the state leader in wins. John Petersen, who retired last spring after a 37-year coaching run at Columbus Scotus, is second at 863.
"It was nice that win came against Minden," she said. "They've got a solid program and they're always in the ratings."
Zavala has guided the Crusaders to nine state championships and eight runner-up finishes. Central Catholic is third all time in state titles (trailing only Columbus Scotus and Bellevue West) and second all-time in state tourney wins (51, trailing only Scotus).
"It's says a lot about all of the great players we've had here," Zavala said. "And I've got a good feeling about this year's team."
Zavala said she was unaware of her impending milestone win until she was informed after the match.
"The parents held up some signs and I got a cookie," she said. "I think they're going to announce it at our next home match, but that won't be for awhile."
Zavala could be well on her way to 1,000 before the Crusaders next play at home, Oct. 7 against Adams Central. Central Catholic has just four home matches this season, and already has played one — losing to St. Cecilia.
Her secret for coaching longevity?
"I look at each season as a challenge," Zavala said. "It's like putting together a new jigsaw puzzle every year."
Also being rewarded with cookies was VanCura, is his 40th season at St. Cecilia. After the Hawkettes defeated Lincoln Christian, parents broke out the signs and the cookies decorated with the number 800.
VanCura, who entered this season with a record of 799-247, has guided the Hawkettes to six state titles. The most recent came last season when St. Cecilia finished 28-8 to capture the Class C-2 crown.
"It's a really good feeling, to reach that milestone," he said. "It's a great tribute to my players and my assistants."
The Hawkettes' historic win Thursday night allowed VanCura to clear the decks for his son's wedding Saturday.
"To say last week was busy would be an understatement," he said. "I just know that I have a lot to be thankful for."
Monarchs No. 1: On the strength of its championship performance in the tough Bellevue Invitational, Papillion-La Vista ascends to the overall No. 1 position in the ratings.
The Monarchs went 6-0 through the tourney, defeating Iowa power Hull Western Christian in the final. That victory came shortly after Papio had knocked off preseason No. 1 Omaha Marian.
Head coach Kristen Lebeda-Svehla said her team is out to make amends after last season's state tournament. The Monarchs reached the semifinals but had to settle for third place after losing to eventual state runner-up Millard West in four sets.
"Let's just say our team has a lot of incentive," she said. "We were disappointed last season and these girls want to do something about that."
Pius posts win: In another big tournament this past weekend, Lincoln Pius X prevailed in the Beatrice Invitational.
The Thunderbolts went 5-1 in the tourney, defeating Elkhorn in three sets for the championship. Pius, the preseason No. 1 in Class B, stays there this week.
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