LINCOLN – You will have to forgive the Ashland-Greenwood volleyball players for acting as if they won the state championship after knocking off the Waverly Vikings in four sets in Class B’s opening round last week.
It was the first state volleyball tournament win in the school’s history and after the final point was scored in set four the Bluejay players dogpiled each other on the court at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
The fifth-ranked Bluejays were just reacting to beating the third-ranked Waverly Vikings in four sets 25-21, 25-21, 15-25 and 25-22.
The win was especially sweet for the 23-6 Bluejays who were defeated by the Vikings twice, once in the regular season and once in the Class B sub-district final in Ashland on Oct. 28.
“We told the team this week that it’s hard to beat a team three times and the third time is the charm,” said Coach Megan Rossell.
The Jays were able to get the win over the Vikings when it counted the most.
“The first two times we played them, we played them very tough,” the coach added. “We saw this as our opportunity to finally get a win against them on the big court at state.”
The story of the game against Waverly was the strong block thrown up by the Jays, especially 5-11 senior Jessica Stander.
Stander was busy the entire match trying to slow down future Husker Whitney Lauenstein.
The strong block allowed the Jays to score the final eight points on the first set resulting in a 25-21 win for the Jays.
Stander had two monster solo blocks in set two leading the Jays to another 25-21 win.
“After I got those blocks, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I can feel my arms,’” added Stander, who started the season as an outside hitter. “But it was really amazing, and I’m glad I was able to get that experience.”
Stander finished with 11 kills and got her hands on a number of Waverly kill attempts, slowing down the Viking attack. Senior Carly vonRentzell led the Jay attack with 12 kills.
Senior Saige Craven also played well for the Jays finishing with a team-best 21 set assists, 15 digs and five kills.
Junior Brynn Glock handed out 15 set assists and added five kills.
Senior libero Alexa Edmisten was extremely solid along the back row while piling up 25 digs.
Senior Layne Whaley hammered seven kills and added 10 digs.
The win put the Jays into the semifinals against five-time defending state champ Omaha Skutt at PBA on Friday night.
Behind 6-4 Husker recruit Lindsey Krause, the Skyhawks were able to advance past the Bluejays in straight sets 25-11, 25-14 and 25-12.
Krause finished with 19 of Skutt’s 47 kills while the Bluejays were limited to just 18.
VonRentzell led the Bluejays at the net with seven kills. She also added 10 digs against the Hawks and recorded the team’s only two ace serves. Whaley and Stander added four kills apiece.
Edmisten led the Jays with 16 digs and Whaley and Craven combined for 20 more.
Craven and Glock combined to hand out 17 set assists.
The loss to Skutt ended the Jays’ season with a record of 24-7 and the careers of 12 seniors.
“These seniors mean more to this program then they even know. They truly have shown younger girls what it means to work hard and be fully committed to your
team. There are not many programs that have 12 seniors left standing at the end and I feel truly blessed I got to coach each one of them. We will be talking about the
season for many years to come. Their leadership, grit and just fun personalities will be missed in our gym,” Rossell added.
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