The fourth-seeded Dragons defeated No. 5 Millard West in four sets (25-17, 11-25, 25-16 and 25-22) Thursday to advance to play No. 8 Millard North Friday at 5 p.m.
"We haven't played (Millard North) since the first game of the year so it'll be a fun challenge," Gretna head coach Mike Brandon said. "You kind of look forward to these big matches. (With Millard North being defending state champions), you always want to knock off the queen, in this case.
"That's why we train hard and in the offseason for these opportunities."
After both teams scored to open the first set, the Dragon scored six-straight points for a 7-1 lead before the Wildcats cut the lead to 12-11. Gretna responded with five-straight points.
Kenedy Schaecher notched a serving ace during the six-point run and two during the five-point run. The senior libero totaled four aces in the game.
"She works very hard at practice and takes it seriously. She's one of those kids that takes every rep very seriously," Brandon said. "As a result, you know, she doesn't need to take as many reps as other kids because some kids don't put as much into every rep. So she's just a very hard working kid that shows that in her skill set."
Then with the score 21-14, Gretna scored four straight, including two kills by Skylar McCune, to take the first set.
Millard West took control in the second set. The Wildcats jumped out to a 13-3 lead before Gretna cut the deficit to 18-9. Millard West extended its lead to 21-10 before scoring the next four of five point to take the match.
Gretna responded in the third set by jumping out to a 6-1 lead and then after Millard West made the score 11-8, the Dragons scored four straight with three kills by Lydia Yost, to lead 15-8.
Then with the score 18-12, with help of a kill by Emma Prentice and two by McCune, Gretna scored four straight to lead 22-12 and give them an eventual set three win.
In the fourth set, the game was tied at 5-5 before Gretna scored four straight. Millard West came back to tie the set at 12-12 and then Gretna scored three of the next four to lead 16-13.
Then with the Dragons leading 24-21, Millard West's serve sailed out of bounds to advance Gretna to the next round.
"First set is a huge deal in these kind of matches, especially, at state. If you can get that first set under your belt then, I think, teams play a little bit more relaxed," Brandon said. "I think, we relaxed a little too much in the second and credit to Millard West, they really stepped it up in the second set and took it to us.
"We just talked in between the second and third about ball handling a bit better on defense and doing everything a little bit better. We kind of lost our focus in the second set."
Yost led the Dragons with 18 kills and added 14 digs and Lauren Anderson finished with 22 digs and 47 assists while Prentice tallied 12 digs. McCune totaled 17 kills and 14 digs.
While Yost patrolled the outside hitting and Prentice guarded the middle, the Dragons moved McCune throughout both spots when setting up the offense to keep the Wildcats off balanced.
"Skylar's a kid that can hit about any set, so we tried to move her around," Brandon said. "Give the defense different looks so they can't settle in on one defense, and she just rolls with the punches and takes the swings whenever they come."