STANTON — At the beginning of the season, it appeared there was a large gap between the top three and the rest of the Class C teams in Northeast Nebraska.
That was never more evident than Tuesday night.
It didn't seem that Class C No. 3 Stanton could do much wrong as the Mustangs raced past No. 4 Wisner-Pilger 25-12, 25-10 in the nightcap of a triangular.
Once, for a split second, it appeared Ashton Meyer was going to get a quick kill off an overpass, only to see a Stanton defender slide into the gap at the last second to dig the ball up.
There was also the time that Wisner-Pilger got a long save from its own back line all the way across to the Stanton side, drawing a large cheer from its bench. But Stanton promptly turned it into a Jessie Brandl kill, which started a 10-1 run which all but ended the second set.
“We actually like to play defense first, and they're learning that more and more, like how important that is just to get that ball up,” Stanton coach Tracy Kuester said. “That's all you have to do.”
On Tuesday, it also started at the service line, where Stanton (13-2) got five aces, four from senior transfer Liz Christensen. She slammed back-to-back for a quick 3-1 lead which helped set the tone Tuesday.
“We came in with the expectation that we had to play our absolute best to earn every point tonight,” Christensen said.
In both sets, large scoring runs helped Stanton seize control.
To open the night, Wisner-Pilger (6-4) pulled to within 8-7 after back-to-back Stanton attack errors, only to see the Mustangs string together a 9-0 run. After a service error, Hannah Heppner found the floor for a kill, then she and Christensen combined for two blocks before a Christensen kill, Reba Waskowiak ace and Bree Burtwistle kill pushed it to 16-7. Another Christensen ace and a Jessie Brandl kill made it 21-9.
In set two, kills by Burtwistle and Christensen kick-started a 7-1 lead for Stanton which was capped by a Christensen ace and Brandl spike. Leading 12-6 after a Lauren Jacobsen block for the Gators, the Mustangs scored its decisive run that included kills by four players, two by Burtwistle, and a Christensen block.
“They've got a great team,” Wisner-Pilger coach Jean Groth said. “They've got a lot of pieces put together.”