WOOD RIVER -- The Minden Whippets didn't have a hitting error in the first set Tuesday night.
And lost, 25-16.
The fourth-ranked Whippets became the latest victim of the No. 1-ranked Kearney Catholic Stars as Michaela Mestl pounded 16 kills in a 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 Star victory.
“Yeah, they're good,” Minden coach Ed Rowse said. “I thought we played pretty well. … But it's so hard to gauge against them.”
Kearney Catholic (32-0) advances to play Ord in the district final Thursday night, while Minden (23-5) waits for the tabulations of the wild-card points to see if its season will continue at the state meet.
“Hope and pray and practice,” Rowse said.
Minden simply couldn't match up with the firepower of the Stars, who had a 46-29 advantage in kills and reeled off streaks of seven and five unanswered points in the first set and nine, five and four unanswered points in the second set.
Bailey Sokolowski with nine kills, and Megan Anderson and Kalyn Brannagan with eight kills each added to the Stars' firepower.
In the third set, Minden had its best chance, leading most of the way.
“It was good for us. That third set was good. We needed to be pushed,” Kearney Catholic coach Kris Conner said.
Minden, playing without senior Olivia Steen, who was injured early in the second set, fought to a 15-11 lead. The Whippets did it with a balanced attack.
After Carlie Bauer and Alaina Boudreau scored all the kills in the first set, the third set included a four-kill performance by Sydney Stadler along with three by Bauer and two by Boudreau.
“We didn't execute as well as we obviously needed to. … I thought we sided out very well with them in the third set and made it pretty tough,” Rowse said.
The Stars had more serving errors than attack errors, but may have relaxed too much and tried “some plays I really hadn't seen in practice,” Conner said.
“We had some mental breakdowns ¾ maybe we forgot who was on the other side of the net and thought we could get sloppy,” Conner said.
But Mestl restarted the offense with back-to-back kills when the Stars trailed by four. After a couple of exchanges, the Stars tied the match at 18.
“We were right with them there. We just needed a couple things there after it got to 18-18. … I thought we were mentally vested in it and I liked that,” Rowse said.
But Brannagan scored kills on three of the next six points and the Stars finished it off with a 9-2 run.
n KCHS 3, Minden 0
KCHS (32-0).......................25 25 25
MINDEN (23-5)......................16 16 20
KILLS ¾ Michaela Mestl 16, Bailey Sokolowski 9, Megan Anderson 8, Kalyn Brannagan 8, Therin Baum 3, Shayla Conner 3.
BLOCKS (2) ¾ Mestl 1, Sokolowski 1, Brannagan 1.
ACE SERVES ¾ Morgan Stute 4, Mestl 2, Paige Hervert 1.
ASSISTS ¾ Conner 34, Mestl 1, Sokolowski 1, Anderson 1.
KILLS -- Carlie Bauer 10, Alaina Boudreau 9, Sydney Stadler 6, Sarah Ryan 2, Rachel Rutt 1, Ali Rowse 1.
BLOCKS (4) -- Sarah Ryan 2, Olivia Steen 2, Rachel Rutt 1, Bauer 1.
ACE SERVES -- Jenna Denney 3, Steen 2, Stadler 2, Rebecca Stewart 1.
ASSISTS -- Rowse 22, Steen 1, Stewart 1, Sarah Ryan 1.