Photo Showcase: Omaha Marian vs. Lincoln Pius X
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Omaha Marian will get one more crack at Papillion-La Vista South this season, thanks to a winning effort Friday at the state volleyball tournament.
The second-ranked Crusaders (38-4) defeated Lincoln Pius X 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 in a Class A semifinal at the Heartland Events Center and will advance to Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship against the top-ranked Titans. All four of Marian’s losses have come against Papio South, the two-time defending state champion.
“We all know that the pressure is not on us,” Crusaders senior outside hitter Lexi Elman said. “They’re the team that’s trying to repeat, so we’re going to go out and do our best.”
Elman was outstanding in Marian’s win Friday, pounding a match-high 17 kills. She also drew the praise of Thunderbolts coach Jake Moore, who called her one of the best players in the state.
“I think she gets overshadowed a little by superstar players on other teams,” he said. “She’s a great attacker and she’s also solid on defense.”
Marian, which beat Pius three times during the regular season, led throughout most of the match. The Crusaders’ ability to finish off the first set, which was tied at 15, also played a role in the victory.
“We talked about staying calm when Pius made some runs at us,” Crusaders coach Rochelle Rohlfs said. “Not panicking was a big key for us today.”
Marian took the lead for good at 16-15 in the first set when Pius netted a serve. It was one of several serving errors for the Thunderbolts, who made five in that opening set.
“We’d make a nice play to get a point and then we’d give it back on our serve,” Moore said. “We kept battling, but we had way too many unforced errors.”
The Crusaders finished off the first set when a Pius serve sailed long.
Marian led by six early in the second set, but the Thunderbolts rallied to close within 21-20 on a block by Alexa Birkel.
Rohlfs’ squad refused to give up the lead and won the final point on a kill by Maggie Heim.
Marian once again had the upper hand throughout the third set and captured the final two points of the match on a pair of kills by Elman.
“I have a great deal of respect for Jake and his Pius program,” Rohlfs said. “We knew that we had to be ready to play today.”
Heim and Annie Wolfe each had seven kills for the Crusaders and Heim had 19 assists. Sydney O’Shaughnessy added 12 assists and freshman libero Brittany Witt had three aces — two coming on consecutive points late in the third set.
Ashley Witt had 13 kills and Kristy Wieser added eight for Pius, which will play Millard West in a 10 a.m. consolation match Saturday at Grand Island Northwest.
Lincoln Pius X (28-12).......................21 22 18
Om. Marian (38-4)..........................25 25 25
LPX (kills-aces-blocks): Alyssa Thavenet 5-0-0, Anne Bachmann 0-1-0, Kristy Wieser 8-0-0, Sara Boothe 1-0-0, Ashley Witt 13-0-1, Alexa Birkel 4-0-1, Kennedy Hegert 5-0-0.
OM: Sydney O'Shaughnessy 1-0-2, Morgan Sullivan 1-1-1, Brittany Witt 0-3-0, Anna Krettek 2-0-1, Lexi Elman 17-1-1, Annie Wolfe 7-0-0, Maggie Heim 7-0-1.
Set assists: LPX 33 (Bachmann 20, Boothe 11, Sydney Townsend 2); OM 32 (Heim 19, O'Shaughnessy 12, Krettek 1).