The final of the River Cities Conference volleyball tournament turned into a block party for Omaha Gross middle hitter Alex Opperman.
The 6-foot senior had 10 blocks to help the host Cougars post a 25-18, 25-22 win over Omaha Skutt in the tourney final. Gross, ranked No. 1 in Class B, moved to 30-4 while avenging a loss to the SkyHawks in last year’s championship match.
“I just tried to line up with the hitters the best I could,” Opperman said. “We all came out here today with the thought that we had some unfinished business.”
It was the final regular-season match of the season for both squads, who could face each other again Tuesday night in district play. Top-ranked Gross and the fifth-ranked SkyHawks are lumped into the tough B-1 district that also includes No. 7 Gretna and No. 9 Omaha Duchesne.
“We’ll probably see them again,” Cougars coach Kelly Gjoca said. “And it’s difficult to beat a good team three times in the same season.”
Gross, which also beat Skutt in a dual Oct. 16, had little trouble winning the first set Saturday. The Cougars broke a 7-all tie by capturing the next five points and pulled away to eventually win 25-18.
It was a different story in the second set as the SkyHawks (20-16) held the upper hand most of the way. Skutt led 18-12 but the Cougars took advantage of three Skutt hitting errors and three net violations to take a 19-18 lead.
“We made too many mistakes and it hurt us,” SkyHawks coach Renee Saunders said. “I thought we played pretty well today but that stretch really cost us.”
Skutt battled back to take a 22-20 advantage but a timeout by Gjoca helped get her team back on track. Gross won the final five points — two blocks and a kill by Opperman, a kill by Tahlyr Banks and an ace by Ellie Targy — to capture the tourney title.
“I really wanted to see us end this match in two (sets),” Gjoka said. “The longer a match goes, the tougher it gets.”
Shelbi Mlynczak had seven kills for Gross while Targy added 16 assists.
Alex Banker and Taylor Holz each had five kills for the SkyHawks and setter Jess Diederich chipped in 18 assists.
Saunders said despite the loss, her team performed well.
“We played them closer than we did the first time,” she said. “This match was pretty even but they’re a really consistent team that doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
Gjoca said she also is pleased by the way her squad is playing heading into districts.
“I can’t complain,” she said. “We’re a fighting team and we showed that today.”
Omaha Skutt (20-16)...........................18 22
Omaha Gross (30-4)............................25 25
OS (kills-aces-blocks): Julia Faltin 0-2-1, Jess Diederich 2-0-0, Alex Banker 5-0-0, Chaney Laux 3-0-0, Amanda Woodman 1-0-0, Megan Ruzicka 2-1-0, Claire Knust 4-0-0, Taylor Holz 5-0-0.
OG: Shelbi Mlynczak 7-0-0, Tahlyr Banks 3-0-0, Joelle Overkamp 2-0-0, Alex Opperman 3-0-10, Julie Olechoski 0-1-0, Kelsey Ackerman 3-0-1, Ellie Targy 2-2-0.
Set assists: OS 19 (Diederich 18, Holz 1); OG 17 (Targy 16, Overkamp 1).
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