Photo Showcase: Papio South vs. Millard West
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles for Papillion-La Vista South to overcome in seeking a third consecutive Class A state championship has been the early morning wake-up call.
Playing at 9 a.m. for the second straight day, the Titans looked sluggish to coach Gwen Egbert during a 25-12, 25-20, 25-20 win over Millard West on Friday in the state tournament semifinals at the Heartland Events Center. Egbert even had to call time out — twice.
“I don't know what it was,” Egbert said. “It could be getting up early (and playing) at 9 o'clock two days. I knew one of the days, we weren't going to play that well and I thought we played OK (Thursday). Today, we did not play very well.
“I had more energy than our team did today — that's bad. That's not good when the coach has more energy than the team.”
Egbert said her team tried to prepare for playing morning matches.
“But you don't play your best volleyball at 9 o'clock in the morning — there's no way,” Egbert said. “Nobody does. So it was the hand we were dealt. We got the poor schedule and we're going with it. (Saturday), we'll get to play at 1 o'clock, so it will be a little bit more normal of a schedule.”
The win moved Papillion-La Vista South (40-1) into Saturday's 1 p.m. championship match against Omaha Marian. The Titans could become the first team to win three consecutive Class A titles since Bellevue West won four straight from 2003 to '06.
Perhaps the allure of a three-peat will energize the Titans?
“I told them that we need to find some energy and figure out why we're going to play tomorrow,” Egbert said. “(I told them), 'Figure out what you want to accomplish,' because right now, we look like a team without a purpose.”
Kadie Rolfzen led Papillion-La Vista South with 17 kills, while Amber Rolfzen had 11. Kelly Hunter finished with 39 assists and Erin Warren had a team-high 11 digs for the Titans.
Kamesha Young had nine kills and Alexis Anderson finished with eight kills to lead Millard West (29-6), while Cassidy Yong had 22 assists and Emily Lechner recorded 22 digs. The Wildcats will play at 10 a.m. Saturday in the third-place match at Grand Island Northwest High School.
“Our program has come a long way in four years, and that's not by me, but it's by our coaching staff and the kids buying in to what you're trying to do,” Millard West coach Erin Byrd said. “For our school history, looking at a third-place finish is pretty good.”
After breezing to a first-set win, Papillion-La Vista South trailed Millard West 20-18 in the second set. Egbert called time out, and the Titans finished the set on a 7-0 run.
The third set was tied 15-15 before the Titans outscored the Wildcats 10-5 the rest of the way.
“I think we responded really well,” Egbert said. “We definitely surged. The ability for us to play more consistent was there. We just didn't do it. We found another gear.”
Papillion-La Vista South (40-1)...........................25 25 25
Millard West (29-6)........................................12 20 20
PLVS (kills-aces-blocks): Kelly Hunter 2-0-0, Kadie Rolfzen 17-0-1, Adyson Goodnight 5-1-1, Olivia Schonewise 6-0-1.5, Amber Tolfzen 11-0-0, Katie Kurtz 6-0-3.5, Raegan LeGrand 0-1-0, Allyssa Gibbs 0-0-0, Erin Warren 0-1-0. Totals 47-5-7.
MW (kills-aces-blocks): Alexis Anderson 8-0-1, Casey Shapiro 6-1-3, Cassidy Yong 0-1-0, Emily Lechner 0-0-0, Erin Sosnowchik 4-0-0, Eve Baird 0-1-0, Kamesha Young 9-1-0, Kira Shapiro 2-0-1.5, Morgan Rademacher 1-0-0, Sydney Stockfleth 0-1-0. Totals 30-4-5.5
Set assists: PLVS 42 (Hunter 39, K.Rolfzen 1, Goodnight 1, LeGrand 1; MW 27 (Yong 22, Lechner 1, Rademacher 2, Wentworth 2).