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Papio South celebrates after sweeping Pius to clinch spot in state title match.

Papillion-La Vista South swept Lincoln Pius X (25-23, 25-15 and 25-23) to advance to the Class A state championship against Gretna tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center.

"This group has shown that they are a special group that is for sure," Papio South head coach Katie Wright said. "I've been a coach for a few years, and I've never worked with a team that's embraced what I'm teaching.

"They bought in and it's not me. It's them. They are the ones that are embracing that philosophy of overcoming adversity. When something bad happens, it's going to happen because that what the game of volleyball is sometimes. They're figuring out it's not about them, it's about the team and the goal they set. When they do that, they all become successful."

The first set featured a back and fourth match. The Titans jumped out to a 10-7 before the Thunderbolts scored five-straight points to lead 12-10. Then with the set tied at 22-all, Pius took the lead before Papio South scored three straight, including a kill by Ava LeGrand and Emma O'Neill, to win the set.

"We've never been an offensive team until about halfway through the year," Wright said. "At that point, we realized we've got to hit the ball harder, we have to get up and take swings. But if we don't put the ball down, we're not gonna win many games. 

"It took me a while to figure out who was needed to be where because they are so well rounded. They all have the ability to do different things, so finding what the best mix is has been a challenge but I think we're there now."

After Lincoln Pius X jumped ahead 5-1 in the second set, Papio South controlled the rest of the set. The Titans rolled to a 16-2 run to lead 17-7. Pius cut the deficit to 21-13 but the Titans scored the next five of seven points to take the second set.

The Titans were amid defeat in the third set, but showed why they're heading to the state title game. The Thunderbolts led 20-15, before a serving error by Pius, two aces by LeGrand and a violtation by Pius cut the Titan deficit to 20-19.

After the Thunderbolts scored, the Titans scored four straight and six of the next eight to advance to take on Gretna in the Class A state championship tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Devaney Center. 

"I think we (are the most feared team at this tournament). We're just hot right now," Wright said.

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