ST. PAUL — Losing one set en route to a district championship wouldn’t even register for most teams. Kearney Catholic’s not most teams.
The Stars did clinch the C1-5 District title with a 25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 25-13 victory over Ord Thursday night to advance the state tournament, but Class C1’s No. 1-ranked team (33-0) found themselves in a situation they’ve rarely seen this year.
Ord (25-7) snapped Kearney Catholic’s 64-set win streak dating back to Sept. 1 at the Beatrice Invitational against Class A’s Lincoln Pius X. The Stars weren’t so concerned with the streak but with how they played to have it broken.
“After we won, the girls still kind of looked like a bunch of lost pups,” KCHS coach Kris Conner said. “They seemed like ‘Awe, man, where was our A game, it wasn’t here tonight.’ But they bounced back and found a way to win.”
Kearney Catholic used an 8-2 run to close out Set 1 and an 8-3 run to close out Set 2. Ord, otherwise, remained point for point with the Stars through the first three sets.
“Ord picked up on our weaknesses and had a good game plan,” Conner said. “They served some great seam balls, and we had a lot of miscommunication errors and indecisiveness.”
Ord’s Megan Alexander, who finished with a team-high 13 kills, tallied three consecutive ace serves to tie Set 3 at 16-16, boosting the Chanticleers to the set win. Teammate Nicole Carson added 11 kills, 19 assists, three ace serves and three ace blocks in the match.
“We just wanted the girls to play fearless,” Ord coach Wendy Alexander said. “If you don’t see yourself winning, it’s not going to happen. The girls played gutsy.”
One set would be all Ord would get, as Kearney Catholic bounced back in a big way in Set 4. Conner said her team buckled down, and it showed on the scoreboard.
Bailey Sokolowski tallied six of her 12 kills in the fourth set, finding success with a soft tip at the net after bringing a strong attack for the majority of the match.
Michaela Mestl put down a team-high 13 kills. Shayla Conner dished out 38 assists. Megan Anderson was a force at the net with nine kills and four ace blocks, while Therin Baum had a hand of four blocks as well.
The Stars are back in the state tournament, and have their eyes on the prize — a title.
“That’s one thing the seniors don’t want to leave without,” Conner said. “Last year they had that shot and couldn’t capitalize on it, so they definitely have unfinished business.”
Kearney Catholic 3, Ord 1
At St. Paul
ORD (25-7)..........................18 19 25 13
KCHS (33-0).....................25 25 23 25
KILLS — KC: Michaela Mestl 13, Bailey Sokolowski 12, Megan Anderson 9, Kalyn Brannagan 6, Shayla Conner 4, Therin Baum 2, Paige Hervert 1. O: Megan Alexander 13, Nicole Carson 11, Kalie Pelton 5, Kenzie Drudik 4, Sydney Kruml 1.
ASSISTS — KC: Shayla Conner 38, Mestl 3, Baum 2. O: Carson 19, Morgan Alexander 14, Megan Alexander 1.
ACE SERVES — KC: Morgan Stute 3, Hervert 2, Mestl 2. O: Megan Alexander 4, Carson 3, Morgan Alexander 1, Tiarra Kruml 1.
ACE BLOCKS — KC: Anderson 4, Baum 4, Brannagan 2, Conner 1, Sokolowski 1. O: Carson 3, Melanie Ries 1, Allison Welniak 1.