The Nebraska Christian volleyball team knocked off Class D-2 No. 2 Humphrey St. Francis 25-15, 25-22 and Grand Island Heartland Lutheran 25-10, 25-12, extended its win streak to 16 matches and its set win streak to 15 Thursday at Heartland Lutheran High School.
Still, the Eagles (16-0) performance left something to be desired for a team ranked No. 2 in Class C-2 with championship aspirations.
“I was a little disappointed. I thought our intensity level was very low,” Nebraska Christian head coach Tonya Ostrand said. “Even in the game against Humphrey St. Francis and knowing they are rated in D-2 and that they have a pretty solid team. I felt like there was no flow to the game.
“I know the girls used up a lot of their intensity and energy but we’ve got to find ways to come back and play with that same energy and focus.”
The Eagles were coming off one of the best wins of their season — a sweep of Class C-2, No. 3 Centura on Tuesday night.
Coach Ostrand said she knew there could be a hangover from the win. That manifested itself in uncharacteristic errors, especially when it came to service errors.
“You come off a big game and you think your kids might just settle and that’s the one thing that we don’t want to do,” coach Ostrand said. “We don’t want to say ‘Hey we did this so we can stop working.’ We just really want to keep pushing. We have a lot more to give.”
The Eagles were able to take control of the first set against the Flyers (12-3) after the match was tied 6-6 in the early going.
Several hitting errors from St. Francis and a consistent stretch of offense from the Eagles helped them take a 17-10 lead and forced a Flyer timeout.
From there, Adrienne Falk had two blocks and a kill, Katelynn Halstead had two kills and a block and Grace Langemeier added two kills as Nebraska Christian closed at the first set decisively.
The Flyers did a much better job hanging around in Set 2 as Nebraska Christian was never able to completely pull away.
Logan Wemhoff’s kill put St. Francis up 21-20, but the Eagles closed on a 5-1 run to seal it. Halstead had nine kills in the win.
“The thing that’s awesome is that these girls can play a good team, maybe not play their best and still come out with a victory,” Ostrand said. “That’s important. Honestly, more than the victories, we’re trying to get better. We’re trying to work on things that we’re not very good at. I didn’t feel like we did that tonight.”
Nebraska Christian win over the Red Hornets (2-13) was smoother even if it was never pretty. The Eagles got kills from seven different players as Langemeier, a sophomore, stepped up with a match-high seven kills.
In Set 2, an Eagles hitting error tied the match at 3-3 but the Red Hornets could do little slow down their opponent as they dropped their sixth straight match.
In the first game of the evening, Heartland Lutheran fell 25-4, 25-11 to the Flyers. Carli Maier had four kills for the home team.
“Those are two very good teams,” Heartland Lutheran head coach Carli Lindeman said. “I just think that we broke down a little bit in serve receive. That was the point where we just couldn’t get that pass. In volleyball, you got to get a pass to start everything.”
While the Red Hornets are young overall with just two seniors and two juniors on the roster, Lindeman said she’s pleased with team’s leadership and comradery.
“Those teams have a lot of skill and Heartland does, too,” she said. “We are young and we’re just trying to get it together on the court.”
Heartland Lutheran will play Tuesday at Elba (0-14) while Nebraska Christian will look to continue its perfect run Tuesday when the team hosts Fullerton (5-9) and Spalding Academy (5-6) in a triangular.
Humphrey St. Francis....25 25
GI Heartland Lutheran....4 11
HEARTLAND LUTHERAN (Kills-aces-blocks) — Brianna Van Bibber 3-0-0, Trinity Blase 1-0-0, Mollie Bexten 1-0-0, Carli Maier 4-0-0, Emily Niemeier 1-0-0.
ST. FRANCIS (Kills-aces-blocks) — Tara Foltz 4-0-0, Rebecca Keller 3-1-1, Kennedy Howard 1-0-0, Caitlin Jarosz 3-0-0, Logan Wemhoff 11-2-0, Bridget McPhillips 1-0-0.
SET ASSISTS — HL: Niemeier 7; HSF: McPhillips 19.
Humphrey St. Francis (12-3)...15 22
Nebraska Christian....25 25
NEBRASKA CHRISTIAN (Kills-aces-blocks) — Claire Ostrand 4-1-2, Katelyn Halstead 9-1-1; Grace Langmeier 5-1-0, Corryn Falk 3-1-0, Adrienne Falk 5-0-1.
ST. FRANCIS (Kills-aces-blocks) — Riley Maple 2-0-1, Tara Foltz 3-0-1, Rebecca Keller 1-2-0, Caitlin Jarosz 2-0-0, Logan Wemhoff 4-0-2, Bridget McPhillips 1-0-0.
SET ASSISTS — NC: Ca. Ostrand 25, C. Falk 2, A. Falk 1; HSF: McPhillips 12.
Nebraska Christian (16-0)....25 25
GI Heartland Lutheran (2-13)....10 12
NEBRASKA CHRISTIAN (Kills-aces-blocks) — Kendyl Jividen 0-3-0, Claire Ostrand 5-2-0, Katelyn Halstead 2-3-0; Jada McHargue 2-2-0, Grace Langmeier 7-1-1, Carsyn Ostrand 2-0-0 Adrienne Falk 2-0-0, Anna Musgrave 1-0-1.
GIHL (Kills-aces-blocks) — Brianna Van Bibber 1-0-0, Trinity Blase 2-0-2, Erin Maier 0-2-0, Mollie Bexten 1-0-0, Carli Maier 1-0-0
SET ASSISTS — NC: Ca. Ostrand 16, A. Falk 1; HL: Bexten 2, Maier 1.