The Class C-1, No. 8 Grand Island Central Catholic volleyball team is in a different position than it has been in recent years.
For the past seven years, the Crusaders were always at the top of the wild-card standings, which is used to determine two extra qualifiers for a state tournament berth among non-district winners.
This season, GICC stands 14th in the points standings as of Sunday and has to win its district in order to make its 27th state tournament appearance.
The Crusaders open the Class C-1, Subdistrict 6 Tournament with Adams Central at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Grand Island Senior High.
“It puts a little bit more pressure on you going into districts as we know we have to win out,” Zavala said. “There is no wild-card berth for us. That’s OK because we didn’t really expect to be in that situation anyway.”
After starting the season at 8-8, the Crusaders have won 12 of their last 14 matches enter post-season play at 20-10. GICC has played seven rated teams during the course of the season and have lost to Class B, No. 2 Northwest, C-1, No. 1 Kearney Catholic, No. 3 Lincoln Christian, No. 5 Minden along with losing to both No. 4 Columbus Scotus and C-2, No. 1 Hastings St. Cecilia twice.
Zavala said the turning point came at the Centennial Conference Tournament in the consolation final against Concordia. The Crusaders trailed 21-13 before rallying to take a 32-30 first-set victory.
“I think we have gotten better because of the competition we have played this season,” Zavala said. “It showed us what we really needed to work on. Honestly, we weren’t playing bad against those teams. We just weren’t winning them. The match with Concordia really helped us with confidence and I think we are a lot more confident now than what we were at the beginning of the season.”
Sam Moravec leads the Crusader attack with 255 kills with a .290 hitting efficiency. Emma Benton has chipped 248 kills and Kelsie Scheel has 119. Lucky Gratopp has contributed with 724 set assists for GICC.
Even though GICC is the only rated team in the district, Zavala said there will still be a challenge for a state berth. She added Sandy Creek will provide a tough subdistrict opponent if the Cougars get by Central City. If the Crusaders survive the subdistrict, they will likely see either Fillmore Central or Milford for the district title.
“Our district is wide open but I hope the competition we have seen during the season helps us get prepared,” Zavala said. “But on any given night, you have to play well. The kids have put themselves in a position to win the district and I think the girls are ready to go for it. We know it’s not going to be easy.”
Heartland Lutheran to head to St. Paul for subdistricts
The Heartland Lutheran volleyball team will head to St. Paul for the Class D-2, Subdistrict 5 Tournament, which begins Monday at St. Paul.
The Red Hornets will open with St. Edward at 4:30 p.m. The winner will play D-2, No. 7 Hampton at 7:30 p.m. The other match will have No. 5 Cedar Valley and Spadlding/Spalding Academy.
Heartland Lutheran is coming off a five-set loss to Fullerton Thursday. In fact, the Red Hornets went 1-2 this past week with both losses came in the deciding set.
“We’re still working on consistency,” Heartland Lutheran coach Kathryn Ommen said. “There’s a lot of passion going on right now, especially with the postseason coming around. I think we are doing some things well. We have lost a lot of close matches this season. Hopefully those can help us this postseason and we can do something.”
Ord will be the top seed in the C1-10 subdistrict tournament in Burwell. The Chants (23-6) will play the winner of Ainsworth and O’Neill at 7:30 p.m Monday, while Broken Bow will play Valentine.
St. Paul and Gibbon are both in the C1-9 subdistrict in Wood River. Gibbon will play Kearney Catholic at 5 p.m., while St. Paul takes on Minden.
The winners of the C1-9 and C1-10 subdistricts will play for a state berth.
Boone Central will play Pierce in the C1-8 subdistrict at Norfolk.
Class C-2, No. 1 Hastings St. Cecilia (26-3) will be the top seed in the C2-9 subdistrict tournament. The Hawkettes will play the winner of Superior and Franklin at 7:30 p.m. Monday at CLJ Middle School in Minden.
No. 7 Wood River will be the No. 1 seed in the C2-10 subdistrict tournament at GICC. The Eagles (23-6) will take on the winner of Doniphan-Trumbull and Ravenna at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Centura takes on Arcadia-Loup City in the other match at 6 p.m.
The winners of the C2-9 and C2-10 subdistrict tournaments will play for a state berth.
Nebraska Christian will compete in the C2-6 subdistrict and will battle with Shelby-Rising City at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Cross County.
Twin River battles Clarkson/Leigh in the C2-4 subdistrict tournament at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Boone Central.
Palmer is the No. 1 seed in the D1-4 subdistrict at Central City Middle School. The Tigers will play the winner of Elba/North Loup-Scotia and Fullerton at 8 p.m., while High Plains and Cross County will play at 6:30 p.m.
In the D1-3 subdistrict, Kenesaw battles Red Cloud at 6 p.m. at Hastings. Shelton is also in the subdistrict and takes on Harvard at 5 p.m. Monday.
No. 7 Ansley/Litchfield (27-1) is the top seed in the D1-8 subdistrict and open with the winner of South Loup and North Central at 8 p.m. at Broken Bow. Burwell and Twin Loup battle each other in the other match at 7 p.m. Monday.
No. 10 Chambers/Wheeler Central is in the D1-7 subdistrict at Creighton and will battle Randolph at 6:30 p.m. Monday. No. 6 O’Neill St. Mary’s is also in the district.
The D1-3 and D1-4 winners will play each other for a state berth as will the D1-7 and D1-8 winners.
No. 8 Heartland might have the toughest task in any subdistrict, regardless of class. The Huskies will play No. 3 Exeter-Milligan in the D1-2 subdistrict at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Thayer Central. Survive that and Heartland will likely get No. 9 Bruning-Davenport-Shickley in the final Tuesday.
No. 3 Giltner (25-2) is the No. 1 seed in the D2-2 subdistrict Sandy Creek. The Hornets will battle with the winner of Lawrence-Nelson and Dorchester at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Giltner will likely face No. 2 Mead in a possible district final Thursday.
Osceola competes in the D2-3 subdistrict at Schuyler. The Bulldogs play Lindsay Holy Family at 5:15 p.m. Monday.