The Niobrara Valley Conference tournament kicked off with a bang Monday night as Clearwater/Orchard, O'Neill St. Mary's and Ewing took the floor in the opening night of the conference tournament.
OC opened with a three-set triumph over O'Neill St. Mary's, 25-21, 25-20 and 25-23.
"It was a good start to the conference tournament," stated OC coach Sierra Summers. "I am proud of how the girls came out with of fire and a will to win."
The Lady Cyclones jumped out to a quick 9-1 lead thanks to three Katie Stearns' aces, along with three kills and two blocks by JoCee Johnston.
At 21-17, Julian Tuttle recorded her 1,000th career assist on a Stearns' kill.
"It feels really good," Tuttle said. "I've worked really hard for it and I know it's not a huge achievement for a good setter, but getting it within two years I'd say is pretty cool."
After dropping the first point in the second set, OC rattled off 10 unanswered points. Taelyn Switzer recorded four aces during the run.
Trailing by 14, the Lady Cardinals went on a 17-3 run to cut the deficit to two.
OC scored five of the final seven points and ended set with a Johnston kill.
Despite winning the last set for the sweep, the Lady Cyclones were plagued with errors. The green and black had to overcome 17 errors to win the last set and the match.
Tuttle collected 26 assists and an ace in the match. Johnston recorded a match-high 14 kills and three blocks, Stearns tallied six kills, three aces and two blocks and Switzer accounted for four aces.
"We did a really good job of talking in the first game," Tuttle noted. "We all stayed low and we knew that St. Mary's knew our weaknesses because we had played them so many times. We covered well and hit well. That really helped."
Sybil Scofield led the Lady Cardinals with eight kills, two blocks and two aces. Jadyn Eby had three kills and four aces, Abby Hedstrom added two kills, Katie Pongratz pitched in a block and an ace and Abby Everitt pitched in a kill and an ace.
OC gave the top-seeded Ewing everything they could handle, but fell in three-sets to end the "We were struggling with our passing," spoke Ewing coach Suz Funk. "We always tell them we can't use three attacks if we're struggling with out passing. OC is a good team and they took us out of system a lot of times. They were blocking well. We needed to hit the shots and the angles we practiced. They're a great team."
The Lady Cyclones punched the host Lady Tigers in the mouth to start the first set with quick 4-1 lead thanks to two kills and a block by Johnston.
"We did a really good job of not being intimidated," Tuttle said. "We knew Ewing is a really good team and they've been (good) the last couple of years. We knew it was going to be a really hard game and I'm really proud for us sticking through it so well."
Trailing by one, the Lady Tigers went on a 9-2 run in the first. Four different players recorded a kill during the run.
An 11-6 run by OC cut Ewing's lead to one, but the Lady Tigers ended the set with two kills by Ashley Koenig.
After Switzer gave the Lady Cyclones a 3-2 lead with back-to-back aces in the second set, Ewing ended the set on a 23-9 run to win the set.
"We talked about picking up the tempo of the game and running a quicker offense, so we could get them out of system and make their blockers run side-to-side," Funk said. "That helped us get some open shots."
After playing five hard-fought sets Monday night, OC ran out of steam and committed 13 errors in a 25-14 set loss to end the match.
"We came out and played really tough," Summers said. "The girls really worked hard to stay with them and continued to do what they could to earn every point. I am so proud of the effort that was put out on the floor and the way that they fought."
Johnston led the Lady Cyclones with nine kills and two blocks. Switzer added three aces and two kills, Stearns collected three kills and an ace and Tuttle contributed 18 assists.
The Lady Tigers were led by Brenna Wagner's eight kills, four aces and four blocks. Sidney Stallbaum tallied 10 kills, an ace and a block, Koenig recorded seven kills and an ace, Summer Schroeder accounted for three blocks and two aces and Tiana Thramer had four blocks and three kills.
Ewing (28-1) advances to the NVC semifinals and faces Elgin Public/Pope John Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. at West Holt.
"We need to stay focused, practice and take one game at a time," Funk commented. "The NVC is a tough conference and everyone is going to bring their A game. Everybody wants to go on, so we have to prepare for every game."
Clearwater/Orchard (18-12) and O'Neill St. Mary's (4-23) bow out of the NVC tournament and participate in the sub-district tourneys next week.
"In the postseason we should be OK," Tuttle concluded. "Our sub-district is doable if we play like we played tonight. If we play like we played tonight, we should be able to get out of it. We just have to hope for the best."
Against one of the strongest fields in the state, the West Holt boys cross country team placed third as a team at Friday's Class D state cross country race.
The Huskies scored 79 teams points to take third. Norfolk Catholic was second with 78 points and Malcom won the team title with a score of 46.
Aaron Kraus (18:14.3) placed 19th, Jordan Tasler (18:16) was 22nd, Ben Thiele (18:25.5) took 32nd, Cole Laible (18:40.3) finished 44th, Joe Albrecht (19:52) claimed 105th and Garrison Hansen was 106th (19:52.6).
Several O'Neill seniors were recognized before Monday night's volleyball match between the Lady Eagles and Elkhorn Valley.
Seniors from the girls golf and volleyball team were honored before the varsity match.
Check out our photo gallery of the senior girls with their families.
Monday night’s volleyball match between Elkhorn Valley and O’Neill had the feeling of a playoff matchup as both teams fought tooth and nail in the contest.
It took five sets but when the dust had settled, the Lady Eagles stood victorious.
“The girls worked really hard and they never gave up,” stated EV mentor Emily Vaughn. “they came out really strong in that first set and we kind of backed off in the next two sets. I was excited to see them come back and fight in the fourth (set). The fifth we just couldn’t quite get on offense.”
“I thought it was a great game,” commented O’Neill coach Angie Robertson. “Elkhorn Valley really pushed us. We have big games tomorrow, so we came in here trying to conserve energy. We tried to keep our energy consistent, but we got stuck in a rut a couple of times.”
The Lady Falcons used an early surge to take the first set, 25-21.
Tied at six, EV scored 13 of the next 17 points to claim an 18-10 lead.
The Lady Eagles responded with a 7-0 led by Brianna Bauer's four kills.
The deficit was too much for O'Neill to complete the comeback as Amber Miller won the set with a kill.
O'Neill bounced back early in the second set to claim an early 7-2 lead.
EV chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the match at 16 on a Haley Fleetwood ace.
The Lady Eagles ended the set on a 9-1 run to take the set, 25-17. Five different players recorded a kill led by Haylee Kaufman's six kills.
“Senior night is always hard to adjust emotionally,” Robertson said. “That first set we came out stagnant and it took us a little bit to figure out our game. We always say swing to win. We’re not ones to tip and we adjusted.”
It was all O'Neill in the third set as the home squad won, 25-9.
A 6-1 run to start followed by a 12-1 run put the set away early.
The Lady Falcons did not help their cause by committing 13 errors in the set.
Both teams battled back-and-forth for the momentum, but no one was able to take a clear advantage in the fourth set.
The fourth set had 10 different ties and the largest lead was by EV at 11-7. Tied at 23, a crucial net violation gave the Lady Falcons set point and Miller won the set with a big block, 25-23.
“In that set we worked smarter, not harder,” Vaughn said. “We found some shots that worked for us, served tough and kept them on their heals. That’s just a side-out mentality. They get a point or two, we have to find a way to counter back and get on the attack.”
The Lady Eagles regrouped and jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the fifth set and cruised to a 15-5 set win to capture the match.
“Our main goal was to get up on them before we got to their main servers that we had trouble passing with,” Robertson said. “We did a better job of that in the sets we won.”
Five different Lady Eagles had at least six kills - with four attackers recording double-digit kills. Kaufman led the way with 13 kills, an ace and two blocks. Bauer tallied 14 kills, two blocks and 19 digs, Blair Gutshall recorded 11 kills, four blocks and two aces, Makayla Hilker accumulated six kills, 26 digs and two aces, Meg Schluns had 12 kills and 12 digs and Alyssa Eichelberger added 51 assists and 14 digs
“We have a young setter (Eichelberger) and we push her to make all these different sets and she’s doing a fantastic job,” Robertson noted. “We like to move the ball around. We know we have a hard hitter in Brianna Bauer on the outside, but she gets targeted a lot. We had to figure out what else we’re going to run when she is getting blocked and they have done a great job. Tonight was one of the best team efforts we’ve had.”
Miller led the Lady Falcons with eight kills, three aces, two blocks, 24 digs and 6 assists. Sierra Rystrom and Hannah Ollendick each tallied six kills, Ollendick added two aces, four blocks and 20 digs, Olivia Nall contributed four kills, tow blocks and 18 digs and Haley Fleetwood served three aces and 12 digs.
O’Neill (16-8) travels to Wayne for a tri-match today to end its regular season.
“This is a perfect way to go into conference games,” Robertson said. “Elkhorn Valley always comes in here and they never want to lay down without a battle. They’re one of the scrappier teams we play and they’re aggressive. This was an outstanding way to start our week off.”
Elkhorn Valley (14-8) hopes to end its season on a high note Thursday as the Lady Falcons host Bloomfield and Madison starting at 5 p.m.
“We’re looking forward to ending the season at home and getting another home match or two,” Vaughn concluded. “The girls are playing well. I hope we come back, respond in a couple of big games, take care of business Thursday and go on from there.”
St. Mary's split their home triangular on Monday night. The Cardinals defeated Stuart 25-22, 25-16 and lost to Neligh-Oakdale 25-15, 25-20.
The fans have spoken.
News Channel Nebraska will broadcast the Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing and Stuart football game on live TV next Friday, Oct. 5.
Fans were asked to cast their votes and the all-Holt County matchup won by a narrow margin. The Renegades vs the Broncos picked up 2,401 votes, edging out the next closest game, Creighton vs North Central, by a mere 51 votes.
Neligh-Oakdale vs Madison garnered 732 and Wayne vs West Point-Beemer tallied 159.
Bailey Schindler earned top honors during Saturday's Northeast Nebraska All-Star Volleyball Game.
The recent Ewing graduate played for the dark team. The light team won in straight sets at Northeast Community College and a fourth set was played for fun - 25-21, 25-21, 25-16, 27-25.
O'Neill quarterback Alex Thramer was unstoppable on Saturday en route to MVP honors for the White team during the Northeast Nebraska All-Star Classic.
Through the air and on the ground, Thramer led the White team to a 40-35 victory.
The Huskies won the D3 district golf title at Summerland Golf Course on Monday to qualify for the state meet next week.
West Holt finished first, OC was second and Boyd County third. The top three teams qualify for the state meet at Lake Maloney Golf Course in North Platte on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 22-23.
Individually, Mason Hale was the top medalist with a 74, followed by Garrison Hansen with an 83 for 3rd, Blake Hilkemeier 86 for 8th, Austin Wenner 88 for 10th and Bryce Kerkman 90.
The team shot a 331, OC was the next closest team with a 366.
After winning a state wrestling championship, St. Mary's senior Jared Atkeson has another accolade to add to his list of accomplishments.
The 170-pound champion has been added to the roster for the 2018 Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Dual.
The event will take place on Saturday, June 9, beginning at 11 a.m. in the Grand Island High School. The pairings will be announced at the hall of fame banquet the night before.
2018 Red / Blue Roster:
Jacob Johnson - Fairbury
Zach Reikofski - Fairbury
Logan Slater - Fairbury
Noah Carlson - Central City
Scott Fulsos - York
Derek Robb - Sidney
Kaden Vowers - Sidney
Cody Fielder - Fremont
Walker Moore - Blair
Logan MacDonald - Bennington
Dalton Quandt - GI Northwest
Jared Atkeson - O'Neill St Mary's
Ben Garland - Beatrice
Connor Donscheski - Palmer
Dorian Franklin - Omaha Northwest
Zach Orton - Blair
Bryan McGahan - Hershey
Julio Sanchez - Wakefield-Allen
Devin DeLancey - Bennington
Teontae Wilson - Kearney
Derrell Zagurski - Winnebago
Dylan Swenson - Oakland-Craig
Lee Herrington - Kearney
Max Hansen - Tekamah- Herman
Zachary Wioskowski - Adams Central
Andy Rojas - Lexington
Ryley Spatz - East Butler
Max Hughes - Syracuse
Caleb Lefferdink - Syracuse
Cody Yawn - Pierce
Dillon Stewart - Elkhorn Valley
Jacob Mackley - Hershey
2018 All Star Coaches
Cale Streeter, Hershey
Derek Garfield, Fairbury
Jake Gideon, Burwell
Jeremy Hlavac, Schuyler
Nick Umscheid, McCook
Ray Maxwell, West Point Beemer
Les Painter, Cambridge – All Star Chairman
Adam Tranmer, Winnebago – Assistant to All Star Chairman
Mike Max, Burwell - Assistant to All Star Chairman