Papio South took over in the fifth set against Gretna to win the match 3-2 (27-25, 21-25, 25-22. 18-25 and 15-7) and be crowned Class A State Volleyball Championship at the Bob Devaney Center Saturday.
"We didn't have our best game. I think we felt a little off," Papio South head coach Katie Wright said. "The last two nights we've settled in, but I felt more confident tonight. It was like, 'OK' things aren't quite going our way, but that's the nature of this team. They take care of each other and they're going to pick somebody up if they're struggling."
Papio South's Ava LeGrand totaled 21 kills, 20 assists and 19 digs, while Sophie Hendrix added 13 kills and 19 digs.
The Titans totaled 18 blocks.
"We saw some of their tendencies, but that can go out the window in a state championship game, so who knew that was going to happen," Wright said. "The girls have been becoming more and more confident knowing they can handle anything. They become more confident around the net and they know blocking is a mentality."
Gretna's Emma Prentice tallied 20 kills, while Lydia Yost and Skylar McCune added 18 and 14, respectively. Lauren Anderson finished with 55 assists and Kenedy Schaecher added 29 digs.
"I thought we made some good adjustments and got the middles going. We thought it was a good matchup for us and we wanted to get (Prentice) going early but we just didn't find her early enough," Gretna head coach Mike Brandon said.
The first set was a battle between both teams. Gretna jumped out to a 13-6 lead, including a 9-1 run, before the Titans scored the next 8 of 10 points for a 15-14 Dragon lead.
Then with Gretna leading 23-20, the Titans scored four-straight and seven of the next nine to take the first set 27-25. LeGrand totaled six kills, six digs and three blocks in the set.
The Dragons expanded on a slim lead late in the second set to tie the match at 1-1. Gretna went ahead 7-4 before the Titans came back to tie the set at 15-all. With the score 20-19 in favor of Gretna, the Dragons scored five of the next seven points, that included two kills by Lydia Yost and Emma Prentice each, to take the set 25-21.
The third set was a back and forth affair. After the set was tied 10-10, the Titans went on a 7-2 run, that included three kills and a block by LeGrand. With the Titans leading 20-17, Gretna scored three straight to tie the set, and then the Titans scored five of the next seven to take the third set 25-23.
LeGrand and Emma O'Neill tallied two kills each during the last run for Papio South.
The fourth set was a game of runs. The Titans scored the first-three points before the Dragons responded with a 11-2 run for a 11-3 lead. Papio South responded with five-straight points to tie the set at 11-all.
A kill, an ace and a block gave Gretna a 14-11 lead and then with the score 15-13, the Dragons scored four straight, that included a kill by Schuler, Prentice and Yost each, for a 19-13 lead.
With the score 24-18, McCune clutched a kill to give the Dragons the fourth set and tie the match at 2-2.
The Titans took over in the fifth set. With the scored tied at 3-all, Papio South scored the next seven of eight points, that included a block and kill by O'Neill and a kill and ace by Hendrix, to go ahead 10-4.
Then with the score 11-6, the Titans scored the next three of four points to lead 14-7. A kill attempt by Gretna was blocked by a pair of Titan defenders for a point and the match to win the Class A state championship.
It's the programs first title since winning three straight from 2010-12.
"Our program is in a good place right now. We have kids coming up that are eager to get out there." Wright said. "We had many of them here so it's exciting and exciting time for our program."
See full story in Nov. 13 issue of ITG