Gretna and Millard North put on a show in a five-set match, but the Dragons came up victorious (25-19, 23-25, 25-19, 23-25 and 15-9) to stamp their spot in the Class A state title match tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center.
"It was a very emotional. The match had you on the very edge of your seat. When you get to this point, you gotta get a little emotional," Gretna head coach Mike Brandon said about the five-set battle.
The Dragons used a series of runs to win the first set. Gretna led 7-6 before scoring six-straight points to lead 13-6. With the score 14-9, the Dragons scored five of the next six and then led 24-16 before Millard North scored three straight.
On the next serve, a Millard North serving error gave the Dragons a 1-0 match lead.
In the second set was a back and forth with Millard North having a few more runs than Gretna. With Gretna leading 9-8, the Mustangs scored four straight before the Dragons came back to tie the set at 14-14.
With the set tied at 17-17, Millard North jumped ahead 19-17 and never let its lead fade to tie the match at 1-1.
Millard North took a 19-17 lead over Gretna in the third set before Gretna's Skylar McCune took over. The Dragons scored the next nine points, including seven-straight kills by McCune, to take the third set.
"She's just a gamer. She's a very aggressive and fearless player, and I just can't say enough about her," Brandon said. "She believes in what she's about to do."
Gretna jumped ahead 6-1 in the fourth set before a serving ace by Kenedy Schaecher and a kill by Lydia Yost extended its lead to 12-5. After a Gretna points, the Mustangs scored four straight before Gretna scored for a 14-10 score.
Millard North went on a 7-0 run to take a 17-14 lead. The Dragons crawled back to trail 24-23, but a blocked attempt sailed out of bounds to give the Mustangs the set.
In the fifth set, the Dragon defense went to work. A kill by McCune and block by gave Gretna a 4-3 lead. After a back and forth of possession, Gretna took a 10-7 with a block by Brooklyn Schuler and Avery Kallman that led to a Millard North timeout.
The Mustangs scored out of the timeout and then the Dragons scored four straight, including kill by Yost and McCune and a block by Lauren Anderson, to lead 14-8.
After Millard North scored, McCune ended the match with a kill to put Gretna in the title game.
"(Defense) is something we've hung our hat on. I thought our defense played incredible," Brandon said. "We just told them to grind and play as hard as you can and good things will happen. They did that and they just gave effort all day long."