Patterson: St. Paul volleyball is giving perfection a new meaning. The Wildcats haven't lost a set

The Class C-1 Wildcats are 28-0 this season and haven't lost a set. “I knew we were going to be good," St. Paul coach Matt Koehn-Fairbanks said. “But I also know that anybody can have a bad day, so this is pretty amazing."

There’s perfect, and then there’s St. Paul perfect.

Not only are the Class C-1 Wildcats undefeated, but they haven’t even lost a set. That’s a 28-0 record and a 66-0 mark in games played.

It’s an accomplishment that even astounds Matt Koehn-Fairbanks, in his 13th season as head coach.

“I knew we were going to be good," he said. “But I also know that anybody can have a bad day, so this is pretty amazing."

St. Paul is coming off its best season ever. The Wildcats went 35-2 in 2018 and finished third at the state tournament, losing in the semifinals but winning their consolation match.

Four players graduated from that squad, including top hitter Hayley Fox (565 kills).

“We were happy with finishing third last year,” Koehn-Fairbanks said. “But the girls who returned this year wanted to do everything just a little bit better.”

Leading the attack are junior Josie Jakubowski (221 kills) and senior Brooke Poppert (220). Junior Teegan Hansel has contributed 134 kills.

Olivia Poppert, one of two starting setters as a freshman last season, has taken over the sole duty this year. The 6-foot sophomore has dished out 675 assists and leads the team in aces with 41.

Starting libero Paige Lukasiewicz (331 digs) anchors a strong defensive group that includes juniors Noel Roan and Camryn Morgan.

“We don’t have any Division I recruits,” Koehn-Fairbanks said. “But we play as a team, and that’s what makes us tough.”

The coach added that there have been several close sets, but his Wildcats have managed to win them all.

“There’ve been times when we’ve been tied at 18 or 19 but been able to pull away,” he said. “That says a lot about the determination of our girls.”

Koehn-Fairbanks said there’s another reason his team remains unbeaten, joining Class A Papillion-La Vista and Class D-1 Maywood-Hayes Center in that elite group.

“We take every opponent seriously,’’ he said. “You need to have that mental fortitude to bring it every game.”

Though St. Paul’s toughest matches probably still await in the postseason, Koehn-Fairbanks said his team is determined to stay on track for a possible first state championship.

“Our goal is always to win state,” he said. “That’s something we really want to make happen.”

Ratings update

Papillion-La Vista went 5-0 last week at the Omaha Westside Invitational to maintain its hold on the overall No. 1 slot.

The 33-0 Monarchs defeated Omaha Marian in four sets in the final to capture their fourth tournament title this season.

Class B Omaha Skutt maintains its hold on No. 2 after sweeping Omaha Duchesne in a match played at Creighton’s Sokol Arena. The SkyHawks are 24-5, though they haven’t lost to a team from Nebraska since Sept. 14.

Rounding out the top five are Lincoln Pius X, Omaha Marian and Gretna. The Dragons moved up from No. 7 after outlasting Elkhorn South in five sets last Tuesday.

The only new No. 1 comes this week in Class D-2 as BDS — Bruning-Davenport-Shickley — regains the top spot after defeating previous No. 1 Lawrence-Nelson.

Metro tourney

The four-day Metro Conference tournament began Monday and will conclude Thursday, with all matches being played at Ralston Arena.

Defending Class A champion Millard North entered the 18-team event seeded 13th after last week’s Nebraska School Activities Association ruling. The Mustangs were found to have used an ineligible player and had to forfeit 14 wins.

That ruling will profoundly impact the Class A district pairings, which will be released Thursday.

Statistics needed

Coaches of teams in Class A, Class B or the Omaha area are asked to submit updated statistics by Wednesday to mike.patterson@owh.com.

Coaches who update statistics on the MaxPreps website need not return a stat sheet.

Top matches this week

Class A — Tuesday-Thursday: Metro Conference tournament (at Ralston Arena); Heartland Athletic Conference tournament (final at Lincoln Southwest). Thursday: Waverly at Elkhorn.

Class B — Tuesday: Omaha Skutt, Omaha Gross at Aurora triangular; Norris, Lincoln Lutheran at Beatrice triangular. Saturday: River Cities Conference tournament (at Omaha Gross).

Class C-1 — Tuesday: Omaha Concordia, Columbus Lakeview at Wahoo Neumann triangular; Broken Bow Invitational. Tuesday-Thursday: Mid State Conference tournament.

Class C-2 — Tuesday: Hastings St. Cecilia at Columbus Scotus. Thursday: Wahoo Neumann at Malcolm.

Class D-1 — Tuesday: Overton at Kearney Catholic. Tuesday-Friday: Pioneer Conference tournament. Thursday: Central Valley at Humphrey St. Francis.

Class D-2 — Tuesday: Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, Nebraska Christian at Central City triangular. Thursday: South Platte at Garden County triangular.

Get a daily roundup of game recaps, player features and more in your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.