ST. PAUL — A senior-laden Kearney Catholic team led the Stars to another LouPlatte Conference title Thursday night. They don’t know any other way.
The Class C1 No. 1-ranked Stars (22-0) swept Class C2 No. 5-ranked Wood River 25-11, 25-19, 25-9 to claim a fourth consecutive conference crown.
“It means a lot to them, because there’s not too many senior classes who can say they won it every year they were in high school,” KCHS coach Kris Conner said. “That’s quite a feat, and they’re proud of their team.”
The Stars, who haven’t lost a set since Sept. 1, used a 10-0 run in Set 1 to take a commanding lead over Wood River (18-5). KCHS used some big runs to capture Set 3 as well.
“I was really pleased with the girls, especially in the first and third sets,” Conner said. “The second set (Wood River) threw some stuff at us that maybe was a little out of sync for us.”
The Eagles sent a lot of second balls over to catch KCHS off guard in Set 2, and picked up the defense to sustain some longer rallies.
“The girls can compete, but to fight for every point was hard for us,” Wood River coach Peg Heise said. “But I was glad to see the girls battle and see the long rallies.”
The Eagles came out on top of a few rallies, but the majority went to Kearney Catholic.
“This team does a great job of pursit,” Conner said. “If there’s a long rally, my money is on them. The kids play with a lot of heart.”
Bailey Sokolowski tallied 11 kills and three ace blocks for KCHS. Michaela Mestl chipped in 10 kills. Shayla Conner dished out 35 assists and Paige Hervert served up three aces.
The Eagles, playing in their first conference championship game since they won it back in 2004, were coming off of an emotional five-set win over Ord in the semifinals on Tuesday. Heise didn’t believe that had an effect on her team going into Thursday night.
“The girls were ready to play and we knew what we were up against,” she said. “They were just tough to stop.”
Hope Lambrecht put down a team-high eight kills for the Eagles. Kelsey Bahe totaled 13 assists and two ace serves.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the conference championship game, so it was good to be here,” Heise said. “(Defeating Ord) is what we’re taking from this tournament. We gained a lot from that.”
KCHS 3, Wood River 0
At St. Paul
WOOD RIVER (18-5)............11............19............9
KILLS — KC: Bailey Sokolowski 11, Michaela Mestl 10, Kalyn Brannagan 7, Megan Anderson 5, Therin Baum 2, Morgan Stute 1. WR: Hope Lambrecht 8, Connor Fischer 3, Kelsey Bahe 3, Julia Rojas 2, Alexis Burghardt 1, Kelly Boshart 1, Matty Lueh 1.
ASSISTS — KC: Shayla Conner 35. WR: Kelsey Bahe 13, Connor Fischer 1, Hope Lambrecht 1, Matty Lueh 1.
ACE SERVES — KC: Paige Hervert 3, Shayla Conner 1, Therin Baum 1, Jaime McCann 1, Morgan Stute 1. WR: Kelsey Bahe 2, Alexis Burghardt 1.
ACE BLOCKS — KC: Bailey Sokolowski 3, Kalyn Brannagan 1. WR: None.