GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Chadron couldn't overcome Ogallala's wealth of state tournament experience in seeing its volleyball season end with a second consecutive loss to the Indians.
The Cardinals were in a 24-24 tie in the second set and led 22-20 in the third set, but didn't finish as Ogallala took a 25-19, 26-24, 26-24 Class C-1 first-round win that ended a six-year string of first-round losses.
No. 7 Ogallala (28-10) got back to state with a five-set win over the Cardinals in last week's District C1-6 final. No. 8 Chadron (27-4), in the field as a wild card, qualified for state for the first time since 2003.
“Today, the difference was us not handling being here at state,” Chadron coach Don Matt said. “We have as good of hitters as they have, have as good of athletes as they have.”
Ogallala's serving impacted the finish of the second and final sets, getting an ace to close out the second set.
“It's the same thing it's been in volleyball,” Matt said. “You're not going to win if you can't serve receive. We weren't getting into our attack.”
Ogallala coach Steve Morgan said he's taught his team to be aggressive servers ever since a first-round loss at state two years ago to Columbus Scotus and coach John Petersen.
“I'm hoping we still learn from that (Friday),” Morgan said. The Shamrocks also are the Indians' opponent in an 8:30 p.m. semifinal Friday night at the Heartland Events Center.
“Our serving got them out of their system,” Morgan said. “And our setter (Brooke Robertson) made good decisions not trying to force everything to Kendall Schroer in the middle and instead trying to split the block or go cross-court.”
Morgan Reed had 13 kills, including the final two points of the match, with Sidney Mell getting eight kills for Ogallala and Schroer seven kills and six blocks.
Ashlyn Eitemiller had 15 kills and Alia Brennan nine kills and six blocks for the Cardinals.
“That was a very, very tall team,” Morgan said. “They run a very good offense. We were good enough to get some blocks to stifle them.”
Ogallala (28-10)...............................25 26 26
Chadron (27-4)................................19 24 24
O (kills-aces-blocks): Kendall Schroer 7-1-6, Sidney Mell 8-0-2, Morgan Reed 13-2-1, Brooke Robertson 0-1-0, Jessica Paloucek 3-0-1.
C: Ashlyn Eitemiller 15-0-1, Maaryn Davis 7-1-0, Jasmine McLain 1-0-0, Ashlea Kerr 4-0-1, Margaret Earney 0-2-0, Alia Brennan 9-1-6, Ciara Voycheske 2-0-3.
Set assists: C, Earney 30, McClain 2, Eitemiller 1. O, Robertson 32, Voycheske 1.