Papio South

Papio South celebrate their quarterfinal win over Elkhorn South during the Class A state volleyball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Thursday.

LINCOLN — Papillion La Vista- South’s first-round upset of second-ranked Elkhorn South on Thursday may have surprised some people.

Titans coach Katie Wright wasn’t one of them.

“I have known what they were capable of from the beginning,” Wright said. “It’s just a matter of putting it all together.

“It has taken us some time, but we are peaking at the moment we need to. Everybody is just doing their job. That’s kind of what it takes.”

Owners of a 15-16 record after going 1-3 at the Omaha Skutt Invitational on Oct. 12, No. 8 Papio South continued its strong closing run with a 25-21, 26-24, 25-21 win at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Titans (21-17) have won six of seven on their way to Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal.

“When you take some losses, but you’re still pretty good, I think you learn a lot,” Wright said. “They’ve learned to fight through being down.

“I couldn’t be happier. I’m just very, very proud of the character that they’ve shown and, more importantly, the people that they are and the growth that they’ve achieved over the season.”

Sophie Hendrix had 14 kills and three blocks to lead Papio South. Ava Legrand had 15 assists and Ashlyn Dierks added 12.

Despite a 39-36 deficit in total kills, the Titans had 13 blocks, including five by Emma O’Neill. Five Papio South players reached double digits in digs: Delanie Vallinch (25), Hendrix (22), Ava LeGrand (19), Ashlyn Dierks (16) and Andjelija Petrovic (14).

Wright said solid defense is Papio South’s calling card.

“We talk about staying the course all the time,” Wright said. “We let the other team make the error. We just get the ball back over. We play with patience until it’s our turn to put a ball away.”

Elkhorn South coach Chelsea Potter said the Titans’ defense was the difference.

“Papio South’s defense and their block frustrated our hitters,” said Potter, whose team beat the Titans in two sets Sept. 21. We had to restrategize the shots that we could take, and they dug pretty much everything — their defense was playing out of their minds,” said Potter, whose team beat the Titans in two sets Sept. 21.

Ibi Green recorded 15 kills, Kylie Weeks had 10 kills and Madison Woodin had 36 assists and 16 digs for Elkhorn South (29-8). Weeks, Galligan and Brilee Wieseler had 13 digs apiece for the Storm.

Elkhorn South led 15-10 in the third set before Papio South rallied to take a 22-19 lead. The Storm cut it to 22-21 on a kill by Green, but two attack errors and a Breckyn Moore kill helped the Titans finish the sweep.

“We knew Elkhorn South was capable of coming back after two (set) losses,” Wright said. “We expected them to fight and we know that they have got some really great players, but we also knew what our game plan was, and I think we stuck to it.”

Elkhorn South (29-8) 21 24 21

Papillion-La Vista South (21-17) 25 25 25

ES (kills-aces-blocks): Estella Zatechka 0-0-0, Kylie Weeks 10-1-0, Katherine Galligan 0-0-0, Brilee Wieseler 4-0-0, Mia Mroczek 0-0-0, Madison Woodin 0-1-3, Lexiss Booth 5-0-1, Rylee Gray 5-1-0, Kaitlin Thiebauth 0-0-3, Ibi Green 15-0-2. Totals 39-3-10.

PLVS: Ashlyn Dierks 1-1-0, Delaine Vallinch 0-0-0, Breckyn Moore 5-0-1, Aliah Clarke 0-0-3, Harlei Cole 0-0-0, Stella Adeyemi 7-0-0, Andjelija Petrovic 0-0-0, Emma O’Neill 2-0-5, Ava Legrand 7-0-1, Margaret Madden 0-0-0, Sophie Hendrix 14-1-3. Totals 36-3-13.

Set assists: ES 39 (Woodin 36, Zatechka 3), PLVS 36 (Legrand 15, Dierks 12, Vallinch 7, Petrovic 1, Madden 1).