GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Headed to a decisive fifth set in its state-tournament opener against Norris, Sidney lived up to its season motto and didn't leave anything in the tank.
The No. 8-rated Lady Raiders built an early fifth-set lead and then held on for a 25-23, 12-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-9 victory over No. 7 Norris on Thursday in Class B first-round play at the Heartland Events Center.
“Our theme this year has been 'relentless pursuit,' so I just told them not to leave anything on the floor and pursue everything,” Sidney coach Sarah Wilson said when asked what she told her team prior to the fifth set. “I told them to keep swinging aggressively every time they could, play smart, cut down on the unforced errors and just go hard to the end.”
Kali Robb had 12 kills and 20 digs, Karissa Segelke had 10 kills and Abbi Porter finished with nine kills and five blocks to lead Sidney (26-6). Madison Malzahn recorded 34 assists and Sarah Mahr had 25 digs for the Lady Raiders, who were making their first state-tournament appearance since 2003 and won their first state match since 1993.
Sidney improved to 2-0 this season in five-set matches, jumping out to leads of 5-2 and 7-4 in the fifth. Leading 12-9, the Lady Raiders ended the match with a 3-0 run that included a Norris center-line violation, Robb-Porter double block and an attack error by the Titans (23-6).
“That's one thing I really like about our girls is that they can maintain that confidence until the very last point,” Wilson said. “That's just a nice tendency that this team has. They never quit to the end.”
The win advanced Sidney into Friday's 4 p.m. semifinal match against the winner of Thursday's first-round match between No. 2 Omaha Gross and No. 4 Gretna.
Sidney had to overcome Norris' significant size advantage to pull off the mild upset. The Titans' starting lineup consisted of three 6-footers (6-2 Kasey Hohlen, 6-2 Andrea Jameson and 6-1 Bridget Bucher) along with season kills leader Madeline Bruder at 5-11.
Norris finished with a 50-44 edge in kills and a 23-10 advantage in blocks.
“(Norris) had some nice height and it was a good challenge for us,” Wilson said. “We haven't played a lot of teams that could put up that strong of a block all the way across the net. We have girls who can swing hard, but it was good for them, knowing that they were going to have to make those adjustments because there was going to be a block there.
“The challenge for us was to speed our tempo up so that we could pull the block off some.”
Bruder finished with 18 kills, seven blocks and 20 digs to lead Norris, while Hannah Olsen and Hohlen added 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Marisa Moseman registered a match-high 43 assists and Kylie Hohlen had 34 digs for the Titans, who entered the state tournament a combined 5-0 in three- and five-set matches that went the distance.
“We felt really confident going into set five because we've been there a few times this year and always came out on top in the five-setters and (three-set matches),” Norris coach Christina Boesiger said. “The girls did have confidence, but (Sidney) got that lead early and then it was just hard to come back from it.”
Sidney (26-6)................................25 12 25 23 15
Norris (23-6).................................23 25 18 25 9
S (kills-aces-blocks): Kylee Price 0-0-0, Karissa Segelke 10-0-2, Madison Malzahn 1-1-1, Abbi Porter 9-0-5, Cody Rowley 7-0-1, Jenifer Heeren 0-1-0, Sarah Mahr 5-0-1, Kali Robb 12-1-0. Totals 44-3-10.
N: Hannah Olsen 12-2-0, Marisa Moseman 2-1-1, Madeline Bruder 18-2-7, Kylie Hohlen 1-0-0, Payton Ruhl 0-0-0, Mackenzie Allen 0-1-0, Andrea Jameson 0-0-5, Bridget Bucher 6-0-3, Kasey Hohlen 11-1-7. Totals 50-7-23.
Set assists: S 36 (Malzahn 34, Rowley 2); N 44 (Moseman 43, Hohlen 1).