Wood River coach Peg Heise and her team have a saying they like to live by: If you can’t get it done in the front row, get it done in the back row.
That’s what the Eagles did in a 23-25, 25-11, 25-21, 25-18 victory over Arcadia/Loup City in the Class C-2, Subdistrict 10 championship match Tuesday at Central Catholic High School.
“We had a lot of girls that did that tonight,” Heise said. “I was proud of Connor Fischer, She doesn’t get recognized a lot because she’s a right side. Her passing has improved over the years. Her and Alexis Burghardt got it done behind the line, and our libero Kaitlyn Herman. Kelly Boshart is always pretty steady too.”
Those players in the back row set it up for setter Kelsey Bahe to get the ball to Hope Lambrecht (18 kills, eight ace blocks) and Burghardt (11 kills).
But it wasn’t easy for the Eagles (26-6), especially in the opening set. Arcadia/LC (17-11) jumped out fast in the opening set.
“Our girls came out fired up and played up to their potential the first set,” coach Sara Paider said. “They worked together and talked. The communication was there and we were aggressive.”
But Wood River turned the tables on the Huskies in the second set. Bahe served the first seven points of the set and Arcadia/LC never got back into it.
“Arcadia-Loup City is an improved squad, and I knew coming in it was going to be a dog fight tonight,” Heise said. “We played them early on and the games were close. Watching them play I knew they’d put up a battle. They’re hustlers. They get after it. They don’t let that ball drop.”
Heise said she told her players that they needed to serve aggressively because that’s a big part of their game.
“They were getting lots of swings, getting a lot of first-ball kills,” Heise said. “We had to make sure we took them out of that so we could get some free balls. And we need to continue to swing. We get some kills on easy, but really swinging hard is what we do best.”
The Eagles kept swinging hard in the third set, but couldn’t put the Huskies away. Wood River was up 21-16, but Arcadia/LC scored five straight to tie it up.
But a kill by Lambrecht followed by a Boshart kills gave Wood River the lead. Lambrecht added an ace serve and Boshart an ace block to finish the set.
“I think we got a little lax after the first set,” Paider said. “We just lost our edge. We weren’t as aggressive at the net attacking the ball. Against a team like Wood River when you don’t attack the ball and give them a free ball or a tip, they’re going to attack it back at you.”
The Huskies tried to hang in toe fourth set, but Wood River built an 18-12 lead and went on to close out the match.
It was the first year that Arcadia and Loup City have gone together for volleyball. Paider said it worked out well for the Huskies.
“I thought this group of girls did an exceptional job bringing the two schools together and making them one,” Paider said. “I don’t know how many times we heard people say, ‘Which ones are from Loup City? Which ones are from Arcadia?’ You couldn’t tell. They just meshed. They worked well together.
“You go in the locker room and you see girls that look like they’ve been friends forever. They did an excellent job.”
Wood River moves on to a district final Friday night against Class C-2 No. 1 Hastings St. Cecilia. The two teams met on Sept. 27 with the Hawkettes taking a 2-1 win.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us, but the girls have improved since last time we played them and that’s what it’s all about,” Heise said. “The end of the season, the best teams are playing the best teams.”
Arcadia/Loup City (17-11)........................25 11 21 18
Wood River (25-6)...............................23 25 25 25
ARCADIA/LOUP CITY (Kills-aces-blocks) — Alexas Goc 1-0-0, Morgan McDonald 10-2-2, Kayla Lane 3-2-0, Shayla Trotter 10-1-0, Trittany Bose 0-0-0, Jessica Eurek 4-2-3, Megan Gabriel 0-0-0, Darian Williams 2-0-0, Bailee Griffith 0-1-0, Lindsey Trotter 1-0-0, Kiela Kuszak 0-0-0, Demi Dorsey 0-0-0, Sara Ingram 1-0-0.
WOOD RIVER (Kills-aces-blocks) — Alexis Burghardt 11-1-0, Connor Fischer 1-0-0, Kelsey Bahe 3-0-0, Kelly Boshart 8-0-2, Madison Devore 2-0-0, Hope Lambrecht 18-1-8, Madeline Luehr 4-0-0, Julia Rojas 0-0-0, Kaitlyn Hermann 0-1-0.
Set assists — Arcadia/LC: Lane 13, Goc 8. Wood River: Bahe 31, Fischer 7.