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2023 State Volleyball Tournament Semifinal Highlights

by Nov 3, 2023Preps Volleyball

state volleyball
Photo Credit: Christian Naujokaitis

The 2023 NSAA State Volleyball Championships moved on to the semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena Friday and the NEBPreps team has you covered with highlights and standout performers from every match.

Quarterfinal Highlights: Day One | Day Two


No. 1 Cambridge 3, No. 5 Wynot 1 (25-17, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21)

The Blue Devils showed some resiliency to battle back from a 0-2 hole, but the top-seeds Trojans closed strong in gas four to punch their ticket to the final.

Cambridge controlled the action throughout the first two sets, but Wynot bounced back in a big way, racing out to a 13-5 lead in game three then responding to a Cambridge push with a 6-0 run to open up a 21-10 lead. The teams traded points the rest of the way to send it to a game four, where the back-and-forth play continued.

However, leading 22-21 late, the Trojans went on a 3-0 run to seal it capped by aa Brylyn Springer match-point kill.

Senior Jalen Kent led the Trojans with 20 kills and 11 digs. Junior in Johnson added 15 kills. Sophomore Mallory Springer dished out 44 assists and serve up two aces.

A trio of senior Blue Devils finished with double-digit kills: Kayla Pinkelman with 14, Kinslee Heimes with 11 and Allison Wieseler with 10. Sophomore Jaylin Geisen served six aces.

No. 2 Overton 3, No. 3 Meridian 0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-17)

Th ages continued to run roughshod over its competition on Friday with another sweep that saw its opponent fail to reach 20 in any set.

Meridian won eight of the first 10 rallies to start the match, but the momentum was short-lived as Overton dominated play the rest of the way.

Senior JoLee Ryan led the way with 25 kills and four stuffs. Senior Natalie Wood added 15 kills and four aces. Sophomore Daisy Ryan chipped in 10 kills. 

The top two sets will square off in Saturday’s final at the Devany Center as No. 2 Overton will take on No. 1 Cambridge at 9 a.m. CT. The teams split their two previous meetings with the Eagles winning 3-1 during the regular season and the Trojans getting them back 3-2 in the sub-district final.


No. 5 Amherst 3, No. 1 West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic 0 (31-29, 25-21, 25-21)

The Broncos put on a blocking clinic on Friday morning to upset the top-seeded Bluejays and advance to the championship match for the first time.

Amherst finished with 19 blocks led by senior Sydney Mouw with nine and senior Hannah Herrick with seven. Herrick added nine kills while senior Saryn Prickett led the way with 11 kills and 10 assists.

Amherst got off to a great start and built a 19-12 lead in the first set, but the Bluejays came storming back to take a 22-21 lead with a 10-2 run. The teams traded blows for a long stretch before a Mouw block gave Amherst set point and Josee Tesmer capitalized with an ace to end the marathon set.

Amherst opened up an 11-4 lead early in set two, but again GACC rallied to tie it up and kept it close until late, when the Broncos closed on a 4-0 run including a set-point triple-block.

The Bluejays got off to a better start in game three, scoring the first four points, but the Broncos mad a big push to build a four-point lead midway through the set. GACC answered with four straight to tie it up at 16-16. However, Amherst regained the lead with back-to-back points and maintained it the rest of the way, scoring the last two points including a Keelie Hagan ace to compete the sweep.

Senior Kelsy Steffen led the Bluejays with 20 kills while senior Jocelynn Skoda and sophomore Julianne Ridder added 11 kills apiece.

No. 6 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller 3, No. 7 Elgin Public/Pope John 0 (25-18, 25-12, 25-22)

After giving up just 30 total points in the first two sets, Sumner-Eddyville-Miller found itself playing from behind the entire way in game three. The Wolfpack opened up a sizable lead early then tried to hold on late as S-E-M began chipping away.

Trailing 22-20, the Mustangs hit the Wolfpack with a 5-0 run to steal the set and complete the sweep.

Senior Mikah O’Neill followed up her monster quarterfinal performance with another 15 kills to lead the Mustang attack.

The D2 championship at 11 a.m. Saturday will be a rubber-match between No. 6 S-E-M and No. 3 Amherst as the teams split their four meetings during the regular season. The Broncos won 2-1 and 3-0 early in the year while the Mustangs got them back 3-1 and 3-0 late. 


No. 1 Kearney Catholic 3, No. 5 Pierce 2 (25-17, 23-25, 25-9, 21-25, 17-15)

The first C1 semi saw some wild swings with the teams alternating wins of significantly varying margins, setting up a winner-take-all game five that went down to the wire — and beyond.

Kearney Catholic raced out to a 7-1 lead to start the final set, but Pierce responded with a 5-0 run then took the lead at 11-10. Senior Londyn Carnes tied it up for the Stars, but the Bluejays scored three straight to earn match point.

The Stars turned it around, however, scoring four in a row to earn their own match point. Kearney Catholic just missed getting a touch on a high-hands attack to even it up at 15-15, but Pierce gave it back with a service error and senior Aibrey Mandernach dropped a tip over the block and in front of a Bluejay back-row defender to end it.

Mandernach led the Stars with 13 kills while Carnes and senior Margaret Haarberg notched 10 kills apiece. Haarberg added 16 digs and three aces to her line.

Freshman Nora Herian posted a match-high 19 kills for the Bluejays while senior Jaya Wachholtz added 12 kills and nine digs.

No. 2 Minden 3, No. 3 Gothenburg 2 (19-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-7)

Minden dug itself a big hole with an error-filled first two sets, but the Whippets turned things around in time to pull off a reverse sweep and advance to the championship.

Junior Mattie Kamery went off for 28 kills, 19 assist, 16 digs and three aces to key the Minden comeback. Sophomore Myla Emery also recorded a triple-double with 16 kills, 28 assists, 18 digs and three aces.

Senior Clara Evert led Gothenburg with 21 kills and three aces while junior Aubrey O’Hare finished with 27 assists, 23 digs and 12 kills.

Minden will take on No. 1 Kearney Catholic in Saturday’s final at 3 p.m. The teams have met twice already this season with the Whippets winning 2-0 early in the year and the Stars avenging that loss in five sets in the sub-district finals.


No. 1 Lincoln Lutheran 3, No. 5 Elmwood-Murdock 1 (25-8, 20-25, 25-18, 25-15)

The Knights rebounded from one of the most impressive serving runs of the entire tournament in set one to steal a game from the two-time reigning champions, but the Warriors controlled the action throughout sets three and four to earn a trip back to Devaney.

Locked in a tight one in the first set, junior Jillian Donovan served a 16-0 run to close it out and put the Warriors up 1-0 in the match. 

Elmwood-Murdock opened up an 18-10 lead in set two then fended off a Lutheran comeback to even the match, but the Warriors used runs early in sets three and four to jump ahead and never looked back.

Senior Sophie Wohlgemuth led the way with 17 kills, including one on match point. Sophomore Lily Wohlgemuth added 14 kills. Junior Keri Leimbach, a Nebraska commit, was credited with 30 digs.

Senior Jordan Vogler and senior Brooke Goudie led the Knights with 10 kills each.

No. 2 Clarkson/Leigh 3, No. 3 Oakland-Craig 0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-10)

Clarkson/Leigh went on big runs in all three sets and Oakland-Craig had no answer as the Patriots punched their ticket to the final in impressive fashion.

The Knights kept it close early in set one, but Clarkson/Leigh pulled away late. The Patriots opened the second and third sets with runs of 8-2 and 9-2 and went on to win both by double digits.

Senior Chloe Hanel led Clarkson/Leigh with 12 kills, four aces and three blocks while junior Baylee Settje added 10 kills and four blocks.

Sophomore Briar Ray led thee Knights with nine kills.

The second-seeded Patriots will take on No. 1 Lincoln Lutheran in the C2 championship on Saturday at 1 p.m. he two teams did not meet during the regular season.


No. 1 Norris 3, No. 4 Bennington 2 (25-20, 15-25, 25-18, 21-25, 15-11)

The first Class B semifinal was a rubber match between two conference rivals, and it proved to be one of the best matches of the day.

With Norris leading 2-1 in the match and the score tied at 21-all in game four, sophomore Hayden Liebsack stepped up with four straight kills to win the set and extend the game to a fifth frame.

Norris jumped out to a 4-1 lead in game five. The Badgers continue to battle, cutting the deficit to one at 9-8 and then again at 12-11, but the Titans closed it out with a 3-0 run including a match-point kill from junior Anna Jelinek.

Jelinek, a Long Beach State commit, led Norris with 23 kills while junior Zoe Rademacher added 17 kills. Senior Celia Spilker, an Omaha commit, posted nine blocks and seven digs while freshman Malorie Boesiger dished out 44 assists while serving bullets all night long.

Liebsack posted a match-high 30 kills plus four aces in a monster performance. Senior Maddie Uhlir pitched in 13 kills and 20 assists and junior Keatyn Liebsack added 12 kills. Senior Olivia Mauch showed why she’s headed to Nebraska next year, making it difficultly for the Titans to terminate all match long with a slew of highlight-reel plays.

No. 3 Omaha Skutt 3, No. 2 Elkhorn North 0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-21)

The second Class B semifinal was a rematch of last year’s title match, which the SkyHawks won in five sets. This year’s match-up was much less dramatic as the SkyHawks soared back to the title match with a terrific defensive showing.

All three sets were close late before Skutt finished strong to complete the sweep. The SkyHawks closed the first set on a 6-2 run, the second with two straight points and the third with a 5-0 spurt after the Wolves had taken the lead.

Junior Abbie Hagedorn led Skutt with 12 kills and sophomore Avery White added 10. Senior libero Paisley Douglas saved three aces and orchestrated a defensive effort that made it incredibly difficult for the Wolves to find the floor on Skutt’s side.

Freshman Reagan Wallraff and seniors Ava Spies and Shay Heaney finished with nine kills apiece for Elkhorn North.

The SkyHawks — who haven’t lost to a Class B team this season — will take on No. 1 Norris in Saturday’s final at 5 p.m.


No. 8 Papillion-La Vista 3, No. 4 Omaha Westside 0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-16)

The lowest seed in the field advanced to the final match in impressive fashion, rolling over the Warriors in three sets.

Senior Oregon commit Mia Tvrdy led the Monarchs with 11 kills, senior Morgan Glaser added 10 kills and junior Lilly Pillay chipped in nine kills.

Junior Ashlyn Paymal, a Creighton commit, led Westside with eight kills.

No. 2 Lincoln Southwest 3, No. 6 Bellevue West 0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-18)

Th Silver Hawks controlled sets on and two throughout and pulled off a late comeback in set three to sweep their way into the title match.

Trailing 19-16 in set two, Lincoln Southwest went on a 9-2 run to close it out and take a 2-0 match lead, then the Silver Hawks closed it out in three.

Senior Malayah Long, a Marquette commit, dished out 36 assists as senior Julia Trost led the attack with 10 kills and senior Teagan Little keyed the defense with 14 digs.

The Silver Hawks will take on No. 8 Papillion-La Vista in Saturday’s championship night-cap set for 7 p.m.